Photo courtesy of the Duluth News Tribune
No. 4 Denver will host No. 9 Minnesota Duluth this weekend at Magness Arena in what will most likely be another close series
Last time Denver and Duluth met was during the first week of December in Minnesota and there wasn’t much room to skate on the ice. The Pioneers swept the Bulldogs but both games were decided by one goal. Tanner Jaillet’s performance was key to that series as it seemed star players were cancelled out and it was up to depth players to be the difference makers.
Since that series, the Bulldogs have gone 7-3-1 only losing one game at home. And in those 11 games, freshman Scott Perunovich has 12 points. The Pioneers have faced some talented young defenseman in the NCHC such as St. Cloud State’s Will Borgen and North Dakota’s Christian Wolanin, but Perunovich has proven to be just as dangerous.
— ben holden (@benholdenpxp) January 30, 2018
After the Pioneers play the Bulldogs this weekend, they have three series’ left until the playoffs including and home-and-home with Colorado college, playing at St. Cloud, and closing the season out hosting Miami University. Denver currently sits in 1st place in the NCHC, but is only up by three points and St. Cloud has two games in hand. They host Omaha this weekend.
Some good news from DU’s practice today. Senior D Adam Plant was back on the ice wearing a non-contact jersey. Glad to hear he is able to be active so quickly after taking an elbow to the head on Friday night and leaving the game.
— Magness Mayhem (@MagnessMayhem) January 30, 2018
All or Nothing
If you look up and down the Bulldogs schedule thus far, you can see that they either blow out opposing teams or lose close games. Goaltender Hunter Shepard’s numbers are solid with a GAA of 2.30 and a save percentage of .914, but his record could be much different if UMD won a couple of those close games earlier in the season. Denver has to keep it close as they did in December to be on the right side of this trend.
The UMD center from Oakdale Minnesota isn’t going to draw the amount of attention that some of the other prospects do on the Bulldogs, but he’s one of their top players. Second in points, Krieger has nine goals on the year five of which are game-winning goals. With a stout defense and a solid goaltender, it’s important to have players who can score goals in tight games and Krieger gives UMD that and more.
— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) January 20, 2018
Pios Stars Were Quiet
If you look back to the series vs Duluth in December, there were only three goals scored. Those scorers were Jared Lukosevicius, Logan O’Connor, and Jake Durflinger. The Pioneers didn’t get anything out of Terry, Borgstrom, or Gambrell as far as goals. With this being the last series before Terry plays in the Olympics, he will hopefully make it count in front of the Pioneer fans at Magness.
Looking at the Bulldog’s shots, power play chances, and total goals, they are all close to even. With an NCHC record of 8-8 (split 4-4 both home and away), they seem to have their hands full with in-conference games. The Pioneers, however, have had success in the NCHC compiling a record of 8-4-4. If the Pios can put away another series with an NCHC foe, they will look pretty good heading into the Frozen Faceoff.
Who to Watch
#7 – D – Scott Perunovich – 6G, 18A
#27 – F – Riley Tufte – 12G, 8A (DAL 1st, 2016)
#25 – F – Peter Krieger – 9G, 12A
#3 – D – Mikey Anderson – 3G, 11A (LAK 4th, 2017)
#4 – D – Dylan Samberg – 6A (WPG 2nd, 2017)
#32 – G – Hunter Shepard – 14-9-0, .914 SV%, 2.29 GAA
Prediction – Pioneers Sweep UMD
After a sweep of Omaha and a couple ties up in North Dakota, the Pios have pulled themselves into first place in the NCHC. Henrik Borgström said last week before the Pioneers played their series in Grand Forks that he knows North Dakota plays in a hostile environment and he loves it. Having your best player thrive on the adrenaline of being the villain in another team’s barn is exactly what you want to hear from your best player. The Pioneers know they need a strong second half and taking another series from an NCHC opponent would emphasize their focus on the now, and put some mental hiccups they had earlier in the year in the rearview mirror.
Twitter Follow – @UMDMensHockey
Where to Watch/Listen
Friday – 7:05pm MT, CBS Sports Network, 104.3 The Fan
Saturday – 7:05pm MT, 104.3 The Fan
— The NCHC (@TheNCHC) February 1, 2018