Photo courtesy of Dartmouth Athletics
The Pioneers host the Dartmouth Big Green this weekend in nonconference battle
After a couple unexpected ties with Colorado College last week, the Pioneers look to get back in the win column when they welcome Dartmouth College to Magness Arena. The two teams have only met five times in history with Denver’s record being 4-0-1 all-time. Their most recent game was in 2015 when the Pioneers traveled to Hanover and tied the Big Green only to lose in the shootout.
The Pioneers last few series have been a seesaw of emotion. The team doesn’t have any problems scoring, but their focus and determination seem to slow in the third period. Whether it’s a lack of leadership or guys just taking their foot off the gas, that’s not exactly Jim Montgomery hockey. And that’s probably the reason Montgomery is disappointed even after games even when the Pioneers win.
Regardless of what has happened thus far, the Pioneers have lived up to their expectation of being one of the top teams in college hockey. What we know now is that a second straight NCAA Championship isn’t simply going to be handed to them.
Nothing to lose
The Big Green are currently on a six-game winless streak and nobody expects them to come into Denver and beat the No. 2 Pioneers. But that doesn’t mean they can’t give them a run for their money. Lake Superior State kept the Pioneers in close contention earlier this season and they’re currently 4-11-3. The Big Green will have to get off to a quick start and hope their defense can hold back one of the top power play units in the country.
Denver not perfect
Something we learned last weekend from Colorado College head coach Mike Haviland is that you can frustrate the Pioneers by beating them at their own game. The Tigers did a great job cycling in the offensive zone and keeping the puck deep on the Pioneers in Friday night’s game. Defensemen were worn out and more opportunities opened up. Dartmouth doesn’t have the same depth or offensive power as CC or Western Michigan, but they sure can try and out-work the Pioneers physically.
Goals per Game
The Big Green are averaging just 1.60 goals per game, an NCAA low. They also get heavily outshot during the first and second periods. If the Pioneers go up big early on in either of these games, it may be a good time to get Ryan Orgel some more minutes to see what they have in him. With the Pioneer blue line a little banged up after the first half of the season, the holiday break couldn’t have come at a better time.
The Big Green have only scored four powerplay goals on the season, and are killing penalties at a rate of 80%. This would be the perfect time for Henrik Borgström to get his groove back. Borgström only has one point in the last four games after starting the season red hot. He and Troy Terry could use a breakout game.
Who to Watch
#18 – F – Corey Kalk – 2G, 5A, 38 SOG
#16 – F – Kevan Kilistoff – 3G, 3A
#11 – F – Alex Jasiek – 2G, 3A
#8 – F – Daniel Warpecha – 3G, 2A
#33 – G – Devin Buffalo – 2-3-0, 3.56GAA, .875SV%
Prediction – Denver Sweeps Dartmouth
After a grueling last few series with top-ranked conference opponents, the Pioneers will face a nonconference opponent that probably won’t give fans a scare like Colorado College did. Despite Dartmouth’s current record, coach Montgomery will want his team finishing strong before their time off for the holidays. Something the Pioneers need to focus on is team strategy late in games. Their transition game has been improving but it can be a lot better. Once Tariq Hammond gets a few more games under his belt and the Pios get back a healthy Adam Plant, they could make a serious push in the second half. Hopefully, we’ll be able to see backup goaltender Dayton Rasmussen get some time in net and give Tanner Jaillet a well-deserved rest.
Twitter Follow – @Dartmouth_MIH
Castle Rock, Colorado, native Dean Shatzer has the Rocky Mountains on the side of his mask. 🌄 pic.twitter.com/tquIoT9hhG
— Dartmouth Hockey (@Dartmouth_MIH) December 14, 2017
Where to Watch / Listen
Friday – 7:05pm MT, Altitude 2, 104.3 The Fan
Saturday – 7:05pm MT, Altitude 2, ESPN Denver 1600