Denver better at hockey than Penn State, advances to fourth straight Regional Final

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.

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.

12 thoughts on “Denver better at hockey than Penn State, advances to fourth straight Regional Final”

  1. 4:30 MT ESPNU.

    The Pioneers look to be peaking but tomorrow (Sunday) will be no easy task. They need to keep the intensity they have had for the last several weeks.

    This was an impressive performance.

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  2. Super impressive performance. That was Denver hockey, and Penn. St. seemed stunned by DU’s skill and speed. Terry, Borgrstrom, and Lucosevicius were all awesome. It was good to see McClellan back on the ice. Jaillet was really good, and made some key saves at a couple points where Penn. St. could have gathered momentum with a goal. I don’t blame him for the goal–I do blame that terrible turnover that led to it. In fact, there was a time around that 4 on 4 where DU took some shifts off and played lazy, and I was quite afraid of it getting to be a 2-goal game. And the Heikennen penalty (that Junda inexplicably served) was probably the worst DU penalty of the year. That one could have really hurt the team. But DU held on well, and there is no point quiblling too much after such a good overall effort.

    I’m a huge fan of Gambrell’s intelligent and crafty hockey. But I’d love to see him every now and then get gritty and just drive to the net with the puck. Even I could score, if I were a teammate following a rush to the net by Gambrell and picking up the scraps.

    Ohio State will be a significant step up from Penn St. DU will need at least the same kind of effort as they showed today. Gotta come out of the gate strong once again. Congrats Pios, let’s get another one!

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  3. When DU plays as well as they did in those first two periods, there is not a team in America that can keep up with them. Let’s hope we get that kind of tenacity the rest of the way…

    Ohio State worries me. They play lock-down defense and they have former DU assistant Steve Miller as an assistant on the Buckeye Bench. Miller certainly helped Providence beat us back in 2015, when he was an assistant there.

    Pios will probably have to grind out a win tomorrow – OSU won’t play like Penn State…

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  4. 1 down, 3 to go.

    DU was very impressive tonight. Speed, pace, puck management, and lots of relentless hockey meant a tough task for PSU. I really like what I’m seeing from this DU team.

    DU will need to be even better tomorrow. Go Pioneers!!!

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  5. The Nittany lion is actually an extinct mountain lion. So glad the Pios extinguished the current creatures’ drive to the Frozen Four, Next step is to overpower “Killer” Miller’s defense.

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  6. Watch out…Danger…Borgstrom’s got his groove on.

    I said above that I’d like to see Gambrell taking the puck to the net more. Upon further review of his assist to Terry yesterday, maybe it’s OK if he hangs out behind the net, too.

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  7. Well, congrats to Ohio State. No question who deserved that one. Sadly, we were totally out game planned today. Monty may have thought, like I did, that our skill would carry the day. But a defensive style of play totally trumped that. Not Monty’s finest moment, to be honest. But I’m more impressed with OSU, than I am disappointed in DU. Hope the Buckeyes win the title.

    It was a pleasure watching this DU group the last couple of years. For whoever doesn’t return, thanks for the awesome memories…you guys have been amazing, and we got a banner out of it!

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