Denver Goes Cold in Loss, 4-2

Photo: Courtesy of Denver Pioneers

St Cloud took the Spencer Penrose Cup from Denver last night with a 4-2 win.

Denver, a team that seems to elevate their play against good teams and falter against weaker teams, could not turn it on last night against a physical St. Cloud State team that seemed to want it more than the defending champions. And, again, Denver struggled to create and deliver on the offensive end of the ice.

After the game, Jim Montgomery praised the effort of the Pioneers but thought “St Cloud deserved the Penrose Cup. We need more purpose and more determination. We need McLellan and Heikkinen back in the line-up because they are our two best centers. We gotta’ start start getting some wins – enough of these ties and losses.”

The game backbreaker was a Ryan Poehling breakaway at 12:25 of the third period to catapult the #1 Huskies to a 4-2 win over Denver. Poehling’s play during the series was outstanding – and maybe the biggest difference between the two teams during the weekend. St. Cloud State coach Bob Motzko had Poehling’s line matched up against the line of Henrik Borgstrom centering wings Jarid Lukosevicius and Troy Terry and Denver stalled on the offensive end. Even when Montgomery added Dylan Gambrell and replaced Lukosevicius on the number one line, the Pioneers could not find net.

In the first period, SDSU’s Robby Jackson stole a pass in the high slot of the SCSU zone from Troy Terry to start a 2-on-1. Jackson passed it to Peterson, who got a backhand shot on that Tanner Jaillet stopped which Jackson slid in the rebound for a 1-0 SCSU lead.

Shortly after SCSU killed a penalty, Denver had great puck movement and strung together several passes to get the goal. Gambrell was on the right side of the net and got it across the slot to Borgstrom at the other side of the net and he got it out front to Lukosevicius, who banged in a shot to tie the game at 1.

 In the second period, Jimmy Schuldt got the puck to teammate Jacob Benson, who caught the pass near the boards and the top of the left wing faceoff circle in the SCSU zone. Benson raced up the side and cut to the middle and shot it past Jaillet from the faceoff dot to the right of him to give SCSU a 2-1 lead.

At 5:30 of the third period, DU’s Blake Hillman intercepted a clearing attempt by Jack Ahcan, skated in from the blue line and scored on a wrist shot from the slot that beat Hrenak on the glove side to tie the game at 2. As the teams traded punches for the next seven minutes, St. Cloud started to take control. At 12:25, Schuldt blocked a shot and got the puck down the middle of the ice to Poehling, who went in and scored on a breakaway to give the Huskies a 3-2 lead. At that point, DU was desperate to score but could not take advantage on the offensive end. At 2:55, Montgomery pulled Jaillet for and extra attacker but the Huskies Mikey Eyssimont was able to get the puck in the middle of the SCSU zone and he skated to near center ice and shot it into the empty net for a 4-2 lead.

The best team won the rugged NCHC regular season and defending champion Denver is  left to wonder what happened to their goal scoring. DU created 25 shots on goal against David Hrenak but timely scoring is not coming easy for this season’s Pioneers – despite an abundance of firepower. Jaillet saved 29 shots on another solid game  and gives the Pioneers a chance to win any game they play.