Denver Hockey NCHC Semifinals Preview: Minnesota-Duluth

Photo courtesy of The Denver Post

The Denver Pioneers will face the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs Friday for a chance to play in the Conference Championship

And then there were four.

The Pioneers faced an early test when they lost the first of a three-game series with Colorado College, but a team-wide urgency set in.  They got better after each game and played a full 60 minutes last Sunday when they ended the Tigers’ season.

This team is different from last season’s because they aren’t relentless on a nightly basis.  But when their backs are up against the wall, they turned into that championship team that we all know.  Hopefully they bring that version of themselves to the Xcel Energy Center for the final games of the Frozen Faceoff.

Although Minnesota-Duluth hasn’t beaten Denver all year, there is no question that they can.  Every game with them this season has been decided by one goal and have been close games the whole time.  We should anticipate more of the same coming into Friday night.

The Bulldogs have been on a roll of late winning seven of their last eight games.  They had no problems in their first-round playoff matchup by sweeping the Western Michigan Broncos.  Goaltender Hunter Shepard posted two shutouts as the Bulldogs coasted to the Frozen Faceoff semifinal.

One player that Pioneers fans need to keep their eye on in this game is Scott Perunovich.  The freshman defenseman is a scoring machine and has the ability to take over games.  With 10 goals and 24 assists this season, he’s a threat from anywhere on the ice.

The keys to this game will be faceoffs, special teams, and Denver’s Jarid Lukosevicous.  ‘Luko’ always seems to be the difference in these tight games with Duluth so expect a big game from him in another close one.

In other news, Henrik Borgstrom was awarded Player of the Year and Forward of the year from the NCHC while Tanner Jaillet was the Goalie of the Year.

Who to Watch

#7 – D – Scott Perunovich – 10G, 24A

#27 – F – Riley Tufte – 16G, 12A (DAL 1st, 2016)

#25 – F – Peter Krieger – 11G, 19A

#3 – D – Mikey Anderson – 4G, 16A (LAK 4th, 2017)

#4 – D – Dylan Samberg – 1G, 9A (WPG 2nd, 2017)

#32 – G – Hunter Shepard – 21-12-1, .927 SV%, 1.92 GAA

Twitter Follow – @UMDMensHockey

Where to Watch/Listen

Friday – 6:30pm MT, CBS Sports Network