The University of Denver is better at hockey than Penn State. But that’s the way it’s supposed to be when a 69-year-old program plays a six-year-old program. For the second year in a row, the Pioneers beat the Nittany Lions in the NCAA Tournament. Last year it was a 6-3 victory in the second round and this year it was a dominant 5-1 victory in the first round.
In 2017, DU let PSU stick around early and gave them hope that an upset was possible. The Nittany Lions jumped out to an early lead and the fans at The Pioneer bar were, in a word, tense. Of course, Denver turned it on just in time and coasted to victory. Tonight, however, as soon as the puck dropped in Allentown, Denver didn’t let Penn State breathe.
Henrik Borgström, Troy Terry, and Kohen Olischefski all scored goals while Jarid Lukosevicius paced the Pios with two goals of his own to make it five goals in his last two NCAA Tournament games (remember his hat trick in the 2017 NCAA Championship?). All four of Denver’s lines were rolling and producing at both ends of the ice.
— Denver Hockey (@DU_Hockey) March 25, 2018
Penn State’s goal came in the third period and Tanner Jaillet would likely tell you he’d like that shot back. It was a relatively weak shot that snuck through his arm. The Mike Richter Award winner still played extremely well all game long despite seeing relatively little action in front of him.
This was a complete performance by the Pioneers who benefitted from the return of Tyson McLellan both in the offensive zone and in the faceoff circle. The Pioneers once again showed the country why they’re one of the prohibitive favorites to win their second straight national title.
DU will play another Big Ten team in Ohio State tomorrow evening in the Midwest Regional Final. The Buckeyes a better version of Penn State. They’re big, they’re physical, and they play good defense. Denver has proven time and again that they can’t be beaten by size and physicality alone but Ohio State is more than that. They’re a good hockey team completely capable of dethroning the defending champs before they even have a chance at defending their title. Don’t sleep on the Buckeyes but don’t think Denver isn’t ready for round two of Big Ten hockey.
The Pioneers are damn good and they’re peaking at just the right time. We can only hope I’ll be sitting at The Pioneer once again tomorrow writing another winning recap.