Photo courtesy DU Athletics
The soon-to-be-top-ranked University of Denver Pioneers scored three power play goals and senior defenseman Adam Plant scored two goals as the Pioneers surged past the currently top-ranked St. Cloud State Huskies 5-1. Top to bottom, it was as complete a performance as Denver has put forth to this point in the season and the Pioneers were firing on all cylinders from the moment the puck dropped.
While everything clicked for DU, the Huskies simply fell flat after an exciting finish to the first game of the series a night ago. After last night’s statement, tonight was just a continuation of what went well for the Pioneers. They tightened things up defensively, they were more willing to play the physical game, and the offense showed up in a big way.
“I thought that everybody that played had a concerted effort to get on the right side of the puck,” DU head coach Jim Montgomery said. “We were relentless coming back to our net. We did a lot of good things and there’s still a lot of areas to improve for us.”
The scoring didn’t get started until the second period, though. After an opening period that saw the Huskies control much of the play, the Pioneers scored three straight goals, including Plant’s two goals, in the first ten minutes of the middle frame. Plant and Tyson McLellan both found the top right corner just 28 seconds apart within the first two minutes of the period. Plant added his second goal with a shot from the point for his second power play goal of the period.
“We’ve seen it in practice all the time,” Montgomery said of Plant’s first goal. “We’ve wondered why he hasn’t scored more in his career. He’s just a terrific hockey player and he was a great leader for us tonight.”
While the Huskies were able to pull back within two by the end of the period, the Pioneers had begun stepping on the Huskies’ throats and they weren’t about to let up. The third period saw more dominance by the Pioneers as they added two more goals from Jarid Lukosevicius and Dylan Gambrell. Of course, multiple major penalties against the Huskies helped the Pioneers’ case.
By the end of the game, though, when the result was all but assured, the Huskies let their frustration get the better of them and things started to boil over for both teams. By the end of the game, 56 penalty minutes were handed out between both teams and Timm Walsh and Dan Dreger had lost control of the game.
As a result, there were words exchanged between teams and between coaches after the game. While the teams were coming onto the ice for handshakes, Montgomery and SCSU head coach Bob Motzko were yelling at each other on the ice between the two benches and had to be separated by the linesmen.
“It was an emotional game,” Montgomery said. “Bob Motzko is a great coach. We both probably said things that we regret. It’s the emotion of the game. It’s over and done with for me.”
While the extracurriculars near the end of the game will linger at least until February when these two teams meet again in St. Cloud, Minnesota, this was a key early season sweep for the Pioneers. The Huskies are a very good team and these six points will do the Pioneers a lot of good as February and March get closer and they make a run for their second straight Penrose Cup.
Now that the St. Cloud series is behind us, though, focus shifts to Denver’s next opponent, North Dakota. It’s officially North Dakota week, so be sure to watch for Fighting Hawks related content throughout the week as next weekend draws closer.