photo courtesy of Shannon Valerio
Henrik Borgstrom struggled to find a rhythm during the second-half of the No. 4-ranked University of Denver Pioneers. The sophomore forward was constructing opportunities for himself and his teammates, the numbers were reluctant to follow.
With a tight national championship rematch against the No. 9 University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs, on Friday, Feb. 2, Borgstrom did as Borgstrom does to deliver the 1-0 victory for the Pioneers.
After a scoreless first and second period the Bulldogs exposed goalie Hunter Shepard to the meticulous and creative precision of Borgstrom. Allotted a costly amount of time and space Borgstrom took a feed from freshman defenseman Ian Mitchell near the left faceoff circle 2:35 into the third period. Borgstrom, positioned parallel with the goal-line, cradled the puck on to his stick before he lofted his shot off of Shepard’s helmet and into the net.
“I’ve been struggling for a while with scoring goals, but I feel like there’s been a lot of chances and I’ve been playing well,” Borgstrom said. “That was definitely a lucky one. I was trying to go top-shelf, but he [Shepard] was [positioned] really low. I just saw room up there and thought, ‘Might as well try it.’”
The goal marked Borgstrom’s 17th of the season extending his season total points to-date to 37. While Denver held a 26-24 shot advantage, the Pioneers went 0-for-5 on power play chances.
“Our intensity and our patience on the power play wasn’t good enough,” DU head coach Jim Montgomery said. “Their penalty kill out worked us. It’s been happening three out of the last five games where they [opponent] outwork us.”
Tanner Jaillet recorded his ninth career shutout as the senior recorded 24 saves to halt the Bulldogs’ momentum as they entered the series 7-2-1 over the last 10 games. The victory extended DU’s (15-6-6, 8-4-4 National Collegiate Hockey League [NCHC]) unbeaten streak to six games (4-0-2).
To earn the potential sweep the Pioneers need to refine elements of their game, starting with their notoriously successful power play.
“Our power play needs to be better,” Borgstrom said. “I felt like we were struggling a bit. If we can improve in that aspect then we can get more goals for sure and get the sweep.”