Denver loses to Western Michigan late, won’t finish season unbeaten

Photo courtesy Western Michigan Athletics

The top-ranked University of Denver Pioneers lost this evening to NCHC foe Western Michigan by a score of 6-5 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Unfortunately for the crazed fans of the Crimson and Gold, the previously unbeaten Pioneers will not finish the year that way as their record falls to 4-1-2 with the loss.

There were a few bright spots for the Pioneers as Henrik Borgström lit the lamp three times for his first career hat trick. Fellow Finn Jaako Heikkinen found the back of the net for the second time this year. The Pios’ Finns accounted for four of their five goals on the evening, which is an excellent sign moving forward.

As great as the even strength offense looked, the Pios were unable to score on the power play despite being given nine opportunities throughout the game. That will most certainly be a point of emphasis for Jim Montgomery and his staff as they turn the page to tomorrow and work to earn a split with the Broncos.

Dayton Rasmussen was given the start between the pipes ahead of Tanner Jaillet and performed well enough to earn the victory. The issue wasn’t poor goaltending so much as it was sloppy defensive zone play. It’s something that the Pioneers must tighten up moving forward and there’s every reason to believe that they will.

Despite the sloppy play, it still took two goals in the final 1:12 to secure the victory for the Broncos. As disappointing as this loss will be for DU, there is still plenty to hang their hats on. The only consequence of this loss is that Denver will fail to finish the year unbeaten. Aside from that, one road loss in the NCHC is virtually meaningless. It was ugly, but in the end, everything is still ok.

The Pioneers and Broncos play again tomorrow evening in Kalamazoo. Puck drop is scheduled for 5:05 PM MT. You can watch the game on or tune into ESPN 1600AM on the radio and listen.

6 thoughts on “Denver loses to Western Michigan late, won’t finish season unbeaten”

  1. One sees something like this, and thinks about situations where teams play better in front of different goalies. #1–I’m kinda surprised to see Rasmussen getting so many starts. (Not that I think that it’s a bad idea or anything. In fact, I think it’s a good idea on some levels.) #2–Any possibility that the team would rather play in front of their Mike Richter award winning and national championship goalie? I’d like to think that’s not the case, and that the team would give an equal effort in front of both goalies. But hearing that the team give up 6 goals, and two in the last couple of minutes…makes you wonder what’s up, especially after that very strong weekend in Boston.


  2. Rasmussen had poor positioning all night long, overplaying situations and setting up WMU for easy goals. Others were just soft or the result of poor puck control; It was horrendous netminding.


  3. There is no excuse to give up 1 goal for every 6 shots on goal at this level. None. Even if a defense has a down time or two throughout a season, it is the goalie’s responsibility to do his job — Rasmussen was NOT just hung out to dry, anyhow. I have watched and/or been a part of DU hockey for 40 years and this was as poor a performance as I can recall.

    I can not envision how DU won the situation where Munson walked away — a proven NCAA D1-caliber goalie.

    I also was wondering why no NHL organization didn’t just take a 6-7th round flyer on Rasmussen, for the sake of it.

    This. Was. Bad.

    It was not a system situation, this was not coaching.

    Adam Murray, redux…


  4. Anyhow, Tremaroli…Is this still a NCHC ref “situation”, where DU got screwed by getting 8(!!!!) PP’s????

    Get a grip. Learn hockey…it would make yer “analysis” somewhat better. You are a lost cause.


  5. Call it what it was, a Halloween horror show a few days too late.
    -DU was 0-9 (yes, 0-9) on the power play.
    -DU scored five goals and lost.
    -DU gave up 37 shots on goal.
    -DU blew several leads, including gagging up two goals in the final 2 minutes.
    -DU wasted a hat trick from a special player, too.

    I still have no idea why a freshman starts in goal, on the road in league play when you have the reigning Mike Richter award-winning senior on your roster. Unless it was an injury or a team rule problem or some other really important mitigating circumstance, Monty’s job is to put his best players on the ice and win the game. No amount of swagger would suggest that goalie decision, especially against a WMU team that has had good success vs DU at home and is a big heavy team playing before a jacked-up student section.

    The silver lining here is that this DU team just got punched in the mouth, and it was somewhat deserved for the sloppy defense this team played last night. A good team culture will learn from it, and the defensive zone coverage problems will be put on film for all to see this morning. Plant and Hillman are upperclassmen and they need to step up an lead the DU defense without Hammond to calm things down.

    I hope we see a return to the kind of detailed, Pioneer hockey that we are used to seeing from this program, and that last night was an aberration….


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