Tanner Jaillet posts second straight shutout as Pioneers make it 12 straight over Mavericks

#5 University of Denver Pioneers goaltender Tanner Jaillet appears to have fully regained his Mike Richter Award-winning form from a year ago. For the second straight night, Jaillet shut out one of the best offenses in the country, 4-0. The #15 University of Nebraska Omaha Mavericks are headed back to the Cornhusker state with two more losses and no more goals scored.

Jaillet made all 30 saves, Henrik Borgström found his scoring touch, and American Hero Troy Terry continued his hot streak with the Olympics around the corner. For Omaha’s part…well, things really didn’t go their way. It was all Denver, all weekend.

“It’s a team effort obviously and I’m happy for everybody,” Jaillet said of his second straight shutout. “I was expecting them to throw more pucks at the net and get more traffic. They’re a good rush team but I thought our defensemen did a good job of absorbing the rushes and clearing any rebounds that I gave out.”

To Omaha’s credit, they started the game with much more energy and jump than most probably expected after the 5-0 drubbing a night ago. They played Denver close throughout the opening period and kept the Pioneers off the scoreboard for most of the first. But with 1:45 left in the period, Jaakko Heikkinen broke the scoreless tie. It was all the offense the Pioneers would need as Jaillet (and his posts) was on his game.

“His performance tonight was spectacular,” Montgomery said of his goaltender. “Last night, I thought he had to manage the game. Tonight, he had to go out and pretty much steal the game in the first 30 minutes until the rest of our team get its legs and intensity.”

The second period proceeded in a similar way as the first. Omaha hung around and kept it close. The Mavs were able to keep the Pios from taking over the game and making it a repeat of Friday night. After a few sustained shifts in Omaha’s end, Borgström crashed the net and the puck leaked to his stick. He tapped the puck past Weninger to score his third goal since November and double Denver’s lead.

“It’s not just [Borgström]. It’s everybody,” Montgomery said when asked about the Finn’s scoring drought. “Our collective intensity and urgency in our game is back.”

The Pioneers added two more goals in the third period, one off of American Hero Troy Terry’s stick early in the frame on a 5-on-3 power play and the other off of Colin Staub’s stick and into the empty net without about two minutes left. Staub’s goal sealed the game for the Pioneers and vaulted them over Western Michigan and St. Cloud State into first place in the NCHC standings.

“We have to win hockey games,” Montgomery explained when asked how to maintain his team’s top conference spot. “I guess we have 10 left. I think if we want to take first place, we have to win eight of them.”

Any sweep over an NCHC team is a source of pride. Shutting out one of the country’s most talented offenses in two straight games is something that should raise every eyebrow across the college hockey world. Montgomery will stop short of saying that Denver is back and a true championship contender, but there’s no question that this weekend was a big step forward for Denver.

There is still a lot of hockey left to be played this year, but after a tough stretch near the end of the first half, Denver is finally trending in the right direction. Even with Terry’s impending Olympic absence, the Pioneers are extremely well-positioned for their stretch run and that should strike fear into the hearts of every team in the Pios’ path over the next couple of months.