Photo: Courtesy of Denver Hockey Twitter
The Pioneers (12-6-4, 6-4-2-1) returned the Friday night favor by scoring on Miami (9-9-2, 4-5-1-0) less than a minute into the contest and coasted to a dominant 4-1 win in Oxford, Ohio. While it is hard to call an early January hockey game ‘critical’, this was a big NCHC win and, more importantly, a confidence builder for an up-and-down Denver squad that has had trouble putting together solid offensive and defensive efforts on the same night. This was a total team victory.
Denver still struggled on the power play with one goal on five tries. However, the Denver defense was stout on the kill and shut out the Redhawks on three power-plays. For the game, Denver had 33 shots on goal to Miami’s 25.
During the first period, Dylan Gamrbell fed Jared Lukosevicious who gunned a shot past RedHawks goalie Ryan Larkin. Larkin stoned Denver Friday night so the quick goal gave the Pioneers early confidence and quieted the home crowd at Steve Cady Arena. Lukosevicious struck again at 13:42 for his second goal of the night on a power play.
Denver’s momentum carried over to the second period as the Pioneers controlled the pace of play and dominated possession and shots. However, neither team scored and Miami only created three shots on goal to Denver’s 15.
Denver opened the third period with Dylan Gambrell extending the Denver lead in a goal mouth scrum 35 seconds into the period to make it 3-0. But, as we have seen this season, no lead is safe. Miami coach Enrico Blasi made the unorthodox move of pulling his goalie at the 15 minute mark to try to jump start his struggling offense. Five minutes later, Miami’s Scott Dornbrock found the net to make it 3-1. Goalie Larkkin went back in-goal following the tally but was pulled again with 4:30 remaining in the contest. Borgstrom made the Redhawks pay 30 seconds later with an open netter to ice the game for the Pioneers.
Denver’s offense was solid and defense stout. Also, Denver protected the lead on the road – so this has to be a confidence builder for the Pioneers.
The Pioneers return home to take on University of Nebraska-Omaha team the 19th & 20th at Magness Arena.