Denver rides power play, three-goal third period to recover from rivalry meltdown

Photo courtesy DU Athletics

A night ago, the story was a lack of leadership and dedication to the process. It ended in an ugly 5-4 loss that saw the top-ranked University of Denver Pioneers blow a 3-0 lead to the #3 North Dakota Fighting Hawks. One night later, the Pioneers rebounded and used their third period dominance to send the Fighting Hawks back to the frozen hellscape of Grand Forks, North Dakota with a loss.

If there was any lingering question about Denver’s leadership and dedication, it was answered in a big way on Saturday night. North Dakota found the back of the net first on a Matt Kiersted goal, but Denver returned the favor with four straight goals of their own.

“I thought our competitiveness and our desire was awesome,” DU head coach Jim Montgomery said. “Going into the third 1-1 in a game that was physical and slow, it was great to see the response we had in the third period taking over the game.”

The first came off of Henrik Borgström’s stick during a long power play after Cole Smith boarded and injured Adam Plant in Denver’s offensive zone. About a minute into the five-minute power play, Borgström fielded a great pass from Ian Mitchell in the right circle and lasered a shot past UND goaltender Peter Thome to knot the game at one.

“You’re not supposed to get hit when you don’t have the puck,” Montgomery said. “That’s how concussions happen. There’s no way you can protect yourself on a play like that. Our whole thoughts are with Adam Plant because he’s a warrior for us and he’s a great player.”

The game remained tied at one for the remainder of the first period and the entirety of the second period. The second period was bogged down by physical play but it didn’t help that Denver missed wide open nets a few different times and hit a post or two. Despite ending the period tied at one, Denver was showing what made Friday night’s first period so good and that they were indeed the better team on the ice.

That trend continued into the third period and just over a minute into the period, Colin Staub notched Denver’s only even-strength goal of the night as he finished a beautiful pass from Troy Terry in the slot. Staub’s goal doubled the Pioneers’ lead but despite Denver’s dominance, it certainly didn’t feel like the game was over yet. North Dakota continued pressing hard and making DU’s breakouts difficult.

It looked like North Dakota had tied the game a few minutes after Staub’s goal as Jordan Kawaguchi found the back of the net. However, after a plea from Montgomery and a full review, the goal was disallowed because of goaltender interference. It was a turning point for Denver as they were able to maintain their one-goal lead and continue pressing hard offensively.

“Dayton Rasmussen said that was goaltender interference,” Montgomery said when asked about the disallowed goal. “We called [the officials] over and challenged it. What Dayton saw was the guy going to the net that originally shot it put his stick right into Tanner’s stick which prevented him from going left to right and went into his body which prevented him from playing his position.”

North Dakota got more and more frustrated as the third period wore on and the refs weren’t letting them get away with much of anything. As a result, Troy Terry and Borgström both added insurance power play goals down the stretch to clinch the 4-1 victory.

“When our best players want to work, they put on a show like they did in the third period,” Montgomery said. “That’s some wow. That’s a lot of wow. I had a lot of wows behind the bench. I thought moving [Colin Staub] to the power play really helped recover a  lot of loose pucks which gave [the power play unit] time to do what they do.”

One night after looking hapless for nearly half the game, the Pioneers looked every bit the country’s top-ranked team. There certainly is a question of consistency right now and whether they’ll be able to produce this kind of performance every night. Tonight, the Pioneers showed why they’re atop the college hockey world right now.


Plant update: Montgomery said after the game that Plant sustained a concussion on the hit by Cole Smith. There is no timetable for his return. Montgomery added that Plant had to be put in a dark room alone after being helped off the ice.

7 thoughts on “Denver rides power play, three-goal third period to recover from rivalry meltdown”

  1. Reading the UND hockey message boards at Siouxsports.com, most of their hardcore fans seemed to blame the officials for last night’s loss to DU, citing a poor call on Smith, saying that Plant skated into Smith, that the hit should have been a 2-minute penalty at most, boarding didn’t happen and that the officials made the call because Plant was hurt on the play. They also blame the large disparity in penalty minutes between UND and DU, as well as outrage on the UND goal that was called back for goaltender interference. There is also a lot of the usual disdain for Denver, for Monty and officials preferences for Denver that you’d expect from a rival fanbase.

    Some of that vitriol is certainly to be expected after a loss to a rival. The hit on Plant to me was a five minute penalty because Smith turned to level Plant well behind the puck on the play, and stuck out his knee to do it. As for the injury, Plant may be out for a while, as he’s had concussion issues before and he’s also DU’s best all-around defenseman – a senior leader. He’s in a defenseless position, and I believe Smith made the hit with intent to intimidate (if not injure), not to separate a player from the puck.

    As for the disallowed goal, it looked good to me in live action. I think DU was probably lucky to get that called back, but that’s part of the game. Certainly the Pios have had goals called back before, and it will happen again.

    However, UND lacked some overall discipline – elbows, high sticks, etc. This is not something I am used to seeing under Brad Berry, and I think you can’t do that and expect to win when a DU power play that has three guys on it who are NHL caliber players. They are going to make you pay, and UND paid the price with a loss. Anyway, that UND is an excellent team that plays the most smothering defense in the league, and they are well schooled on gap control. They are going to be a factor as the season goes on.

    For DU, this was a gut check game and they passed the test. They stood up and took over the game like men in in the third period. DU’s big guns (Borgstrom, Terry, Gambrell, and Jaillet) played like big guns, and those guys won the game for the Pios. By the way, watching Terry and Borgstrom play together is an amazing joy. More, please.

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  2. Getting injured with a clean hit is part of the game. Getting injured by a cheap shop with the intent to hurt someone is bush league. It doesn’t surprise me the North Dakota fans are backing him up.

    From their disrespect of the National Anthem to ‘justifying’ cheap hits, just another day at the office from Fargo. Pioneer players standing rock solid on the blue line during the anthem makes me proud of them. Many of them are from other countries and it shows great character as men to show respect for the flag of another country.

    Tanner came up big at key moments. He stepped up his game from Friday night.

    The refs missed key calls early. North Dakota literally tackled our guy on the play leading to their only goal. No call…nothing. That’s when all the booing started towards the officials. It continued throughout the game.

    The high stick in the third had to be called by the ref across the rink instead of the ref 10 feet away.Lots of whistles were swallowed. Don’t even get me started about the linesmen. Poor showing by the officials over both nights.

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    1. Whistles get “swallowed” in order to protect the flow of the game. Who the phuck wants to watch a choppy game in which every time someone is touched a penalty is called? That’s for pussies… let the boys self police a bit.

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  3. Are those morons delusional? Their team played the stupidest game that I have seen from a DU opponent in years. No skill goonery, it should have been 6-0.

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  4. A much better and cleaner game for DU last night and a deserving W. DU was much better defensively, Jaillet was solid, and the PP was clicking. That 3rd period was fun to watch.

    This Pioneer team is still a work in progress, especially given the defensive lapses and lack of team play in some games thus far, but last night was a good step. I read that this Sioux team, as the season progresses, is sure to get better and be very tough in the second half. Well, you can put DU in that discussion as well. When these guys are going full throttle, and if they can get their senior defensemen, Plant and Hammond, healthy and together, look out. Let’s not forget that DU has some freshmen logging significant minutes, and those guys will get better.

    Regarding the hit on Plant: I didn’t think it was a major. I expected a 2-minute interference penalty. That said, it was a reckless blindside hit, and now we have a kid with a concussion who’s had a history of them. You can bet that if the situation was reversed Sioux fans would be livid. Anyone who says otherwise is full of ****.

    The goaltender interference call looked ticky tack. I can understand why Sioux fans are upset with that.

    Overall, this series had a little bit of everything, which I guess I expected. UND was the deserving winner on Friday and DU stepped up last night.

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  5. On replay, the goaltender interference looked just like goaltender interference. The dude hooked Jailett’s glove and it moved his whole body. No acting involved, as Jailett was still trying to get to the other side of the net to make the save. Twas a good call, and glad that Rasmussen had the eye to call it to the coaches’ attention.

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