DU Smothered by Ohio State, 5-1, in NCAA Quarterfinals

Photo: Courtesy The Denver Post

The Ohio State Buckeyes (26-9-5) played stifling defense and scored opportunistic goals to rout the University of Denver (23-10-8) in the NCAA playoffs 5-1 in Allentown, Pennsylvania. In an ironic twist, it was the Pioneers high flying offense that could never get off the ground and it was the Ohio State Buckeyes finding the back of the net. The game had all the feel of a masterpiece crafted by former DU assistant coach,  now turned Buckeyes assistant, Steve Miller who employed a central defense which pushed the Denver forwards to the wings and mopped up in front of the goal so freshman goaltender Sean Romeo could keep DU’s future NHL stars at bay. 

The first period lacked the energy seen in the Penn State-Denver contest on Saturday. A cautious first period, played at a deliberate Ohio State pace, played into the Buckeyes game plan and ended deadlocked 0-0.

In the second period, Ohio State found daylight at the hands of junior forward Dakota Joshua, who backhanded a shot past senior goalie Tanner Jaillet to give the Buckeyes a 1-0 lead at 3:47 of the second period.

The Buckeyes doubled their lead later in the second period. OU Senior forward Christian Lampasso got the puck to the middle and fed Kevin Miller, who found space to get off a backhand shot which beat Jaillet high to put Ohio State up 2-0 with a little more than four minutes to go in the period. Again, Denver’s offensive opportunities were limited, just like the first period, so the 2-0 advantage felt like a significant hurdle against an OSU team that had sustained leads all season.

Opening the third period, senior defenseman Matt Joyaux, netted his second goal with the help of senior forward Christian Lampasso, who assisted on both of Miller’s goals. The advantage ballooned to 3-0 at 9:27 of the third period.

The Pioneers finally answered back with a goal from sophomore forward Tyson McLellan at 11:21 of the third to cut the lead to back to two goals. But it took only 30 seconds for Ohio State to answer with another goal by Miller to make the score 3-1.

Denver controlled much of the possession in the third period, but the Buckeyes’ Laczynski added to the lead anyway after stealing the puck and making a pass to a wide-open Matt Joyaux, and the senior defenseman buried his second goal of the season to 4-1.

Mason Jobst scored an empty-net goal when Denver decided to pull Jaillet with more than six minutes remaining, all but sealing the defeat of the Pioneers, and ending the Pioneers pursuit of a second NCAA title in a row.

Jim Montgomery complimented Ohio State on their execution against the Pioneers who seemed to be on a roll heading into the game.

While many fans will see this season as one that fell short of high expectations, many in PioNation shared their thanks for the hard work put in by this season’s Pioneers.

DU will most certainly miss their departing seniors as well as early departures.

Ohio State advances to the Frozen Four and will play No. 2 Minnesota Duluth, the team that defeated the Buckeyes in the opening round last season.

32 thoughts on “DU Smothered by Ohio State, 5-1, in NCAA Quarterfinals”

    1. Way to put down the DU fan base. That is a damned fucked up comment. You are just a self-serving narcissist who has never truly been a DU Hockey fan — yer fake fandom has always been what I stated earlier. Self serving narcissism.

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  1. A complete kick in the nuts. Really really disappointing to see the season end tonight. I thought this team had strong momentum to get #9, but it just wasn’t meant to be. Pios weren’t hard enough to the net or around the net and spent too much time on the perimeter trying to get shots through a strong Buckeye defense. DU needed to create way more havoc around Romeo but just couldn’t do it.

    I absolutely despise all things Ohio State, but I have to give that team credit. They are well-coached, are very sound defensively, and are opportunistic offensively. When DU made things a bit interesting at 3-1, OSU responded right away. No question it was their night.

    Lots of great memories from this 2017-18 DU team. There were some ups and downs this year, but this team was fun as hell to watch. It is sad to think we won’t be seeing this group of players together ever again.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As DU fans, we’re gutted tonight. This DU team had an amazing combination of electrifying talent and deep playoff experience – almost everything a DU fan could hope to cheer. Watching the special, generational talents of Borgstrom, Terry and Gambrell work their magic was something we may never see again in Crimson and Gold. To see three NHL-caliber players delay big pro paydays and all return to school at the same time to try and win another title was truly magical, and something I’ve never seen before in my nearly 40 years of following Pioneer hockey. We will probably never see that happen again in our lifetimes.

    But as has been the case all year, this team, despite the amazing talent, depth and playoff experience, this team did not quite have the needed combination of on ice leadership, character or mental toughness needed to be a Frozen Four team this season. Still an entertaining season, but not a Frozen Four season.

    We saw this mental flaw surface in the Western Michigan meltdowns early in the year, followed by the W-T-F losses to Dartmouth and Merrimack, and later with some of the struggles with CC, and it finally came home to roost in Allentown again Ohio State. Monty questioned the character in his dressing room in mid season, and we hoped it was a motivational ploy. But we could see with our own eyes that there were gaps in leadership with a small senior class. For example, Captain Tariq Hammond had to focus so hard all year on just getting back to decent playing shape after his gruesome injury last year, that he likely couldn’t commit the same level of mental energy into leading the team – no captain could do both. And it’s certainly not all his fault. His fellow assistant captains were unable to pick up the slack at times, and it took a closed door meeting after the CC loss in the playoffs just to right the ship. Of course, we hoped that they’d put it behind them with that focused run the in NCHC playoffs and the steamrolling of Penn State in the NCAAs, but with a trip to the Frozen Four on the line, DU came out tonight with a swagger-less, tepid start against Ohio State, fell behind, and never really recovered.

    OSU, on the other hand, was well prepared for DU and executed their defensive gap control game plan virtually flawlessly and buried the limited chances they had, while DU’s big guns shot nothing but blanks. Season over.

    When we look back, we will feel the joy of watching very special, generational talents that won an NCAA title a year ago, but could not quite get the job done a second time. The dominant feeling will be one of missed opportunity…

    Next year will likely be a relative rebuilding year, with a mid-pack NCHC finish the likely expectation. DU will lose much of its gifted offense, and will need this year’s offensive role players and a raft of newcomers to blossom with extended ice time. DU will be inexperienced in goal, relatively solid on defense with four of six starters returning, and a huge question mark up front. We’ll see how Monty and the staff can make the most of the situation.

    We’ll be behind them of course, but we are going to need to temper our expectations…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. DU had some head scratchers against a few inferior teams but almost always rose to the occasion against the top teams and their rivals. Having gone to the Frozen Faceoff last week and watching DU cruise with ease against Duluth and St. Cloud, I was convinced they’d go all the way with very little slowing them down. ESPN sure is happy to see 3 of 4 FF participants from the B1G, they can’t stop bragging about it but things ebb and flow and it was bound to happen where the NCHC would have a down year (if one can even consider this a down year given Duluth still has a shot at the natty) and the B1G would be more competitive.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Agreed Dan. And CC will be a bigger force next season and Miami is shaking up their coaching staff. From top to bottom, the NCHC will be a grinder next season again. Now, we are all Bulldog fans!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Friday 3/30– could we see Gambrell (Sharks) play AGAINST Terry (Ducks)?
    No, because Terry’s parents enjoyed watching him so much here in Denver and want him to finish his degree.
    No, because Gambrell resents being underrated and wants to show his smarts on the ice in Denver and be NCHC first team.

    Yes, who am I kidding that could happen.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Terry, Borgstrom and Gambrell will all be NHL-contracted pros shortly. In my eyes, Terry and Bogrstrom are NHL-ready players who are ready to contribute today for Anaheim and Florida, respectively. Borgstrom and Terry are both candidates for top six forward roles in my eyes, given their elite skills and hockey sense, but it will be interesting to see if their NHL teams slot them into top six positions right away, or whether they get third/fourth line minutes and are forced to earn their way into the upper end of the NHL depth charts.

      Gambrell seems like a bit more of a tweener in my eyes, who might be NHL ready but also just as likely an AHL player for now. He has strong two way skills, and will likely be more of a defensive forward when he makes to the NHL, rather than a pure goal scorer or assist man. It may take him longer to establish himself as an NHL player, and I am betting he will probably see some AHL time before he’s ready for the bigs. I just don’t see him staying at DU next year, though.

      Pio fans may also need to watch out for pro interest in Lukosevicius and Hillman, both of whom are juniors. I don’t think either player is NHL ready, and both could certainly benefit with another year at DU as senior leaders, but you never know if some NHL teams want to refill AHL depth charts with cheap player contracts. Luko is a free agent, while Hillman’s rights are held by Chicago. I hope they stay.

      Three of the DU seniors will likely need to earn their way up through the minors. Jaillet will probably get a free-agent shot somewhere, but NHL contract interest in him is minimal due to his size – NHL teams seem to only sign big goalies these days. Likely a similar scenario for Plant, who is not NHL sized, either. He seems to be the kind of player who could thrive in a less physical league in Europe. Hammond had some free agent NHL interest last year, and following his injury rehab this year, it will be interesting to those NHL teams are still interested. He’ll probably get at least a minor league shot somewhere…

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      1. Hammond was a liability every time he was on the ice this season. The only reason he had actual playing time was because he was mistakenly named captain.

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  4. This is all Monty. Anyone who was knowledgeable actually knew that Monty wasn’t his old self, from the beginning of the season. His on-bench demeanor, to how he treated everyone such as game officials (both on and off ice), to league personnel, to absurdly ripping his own guys in the media, to arena staff, etc…this outcome is a reflection of the coaching. Pure and simple.

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  5. I see the loss has brought a couple trolls out of the woodwork. Even an imitation DG, that’s cool.

    I think Monty did a fine job this year. He got the team playing its best hockey of the year at the end of the season, and we won 5 in a row before this game. I don’t know enough about the inner workings to comment on how the captains did. Maybe they were not the most dynamic. But I think the team had enough talent to win a title, even without a Ryan Caldwell kind of leader. The fact is, our Pios were on a roll at the right time of year, and there was no reason to doubt anything about this team, the coaching, or our captains, after the win over Penn St. We just got out-game- planned, out-coached, or whatever you want to call it, against the top seed in our bracket that executed a game plan to perfection. We may appreciate OSU more if they win the title, which I think (and hope) that they will.

    Nothing but appreciation for our players. It’s a shame they couldn’t keep up the DU tradition of back to back titles. But I think it’s more important to appreciate the championship they did get last year, and their dedication to the program. What an awesome group. Bitterness over the loss will fade, and good thoughts will return soon.

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  6. The one thing you see in college hockey is that the most talented team often loses. Arguably, BU and DU had the best talent and both teams are out. Luck, match-ups, strategy, effort and other factors often determine the winner of a one-and-done tournament.

    I have an incredible amount of respect for DU athletes who compete at a high level in sports and then, go to classes, too. And, unlike when I was at DU, most of these guys are actually pretty good in the classroom too. They also sacrifice a number of things in their personal lives to do both – and I know there are upsides also.

    As for Tariq Hammond, with his Frozen Four injury last year, he may have permanently sacrificed his long term career. He worked his ass off to come back this season and his improved health contributed to Denver’s end-of-the-season run. He did that with Denver on his chest. The fact that he did everything in his power to get back on the ice for Denver this season is something we should all be grateful for. And, he will be a part of DU hockey history for wearing the ‘C’ and getting DU a title.

    As for Monty, there is not a better college coach around and no more entertaining hockey to watch than the Pioneers play. Monty has always been an open book – not sure what changes other ‘experts’ have witnessed. There is a reason why other hockey fans don’t like Denver – he has turned the Pioneers into a powerhouse.

    Disappointed – yes. Looking forward to next season – can’t wait!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Trolls – forgot how much fun that can be…

    Okay – I’l bite. DG has done more to generate DU spirit than any DU fan in the last 30 years. His record of DU spirit achievement is peerless. LetsGODU, and the unofficial Boone Mascot program are two of the best spirit vehicles ever built for DU sports outside of DU’s own funding and oversight and he built both of them. Of course, if that’s self-serving narcissism, more please!

    Monty didn’t “check out” either. He did a fine job guiding this team to an NCHC tourney title and to within a game of the Frozen Four. Sure, we all wanted a another NCAA banner, but so do other great teams. Time will soften the loss of yesterday, and these guys gave us a lot to cheer about with some of the most electrifying talent to ever wear the DU jersey. More please.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Swami, I do believe that the first post above is not actually by DG, and the response is probably written by the same rather sad person. You know you’re big time when the Russians target your sight to sow discord. Ha.

      All will be ok in Pio land. Obviously, we will have a rebuilding year next year. But that’s why its good to have a great coach at the helm…not just to lead some star players, but to build up a new team. I think he’ll be up for the challenge. Maybe we will be back to being a frozen four contender in a couple of years. Next year might be a stretch, but stranger things have happened.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. DU will likely get hit hard with early defections but that was to be expected given you had three guys who were probably NHL ready and could’ve signed after last season’s championship run. St. Cloud will likely get hit too as Will Borgan has already signed. Duluth is pretty young and should probably not lose much. UND lost Shane Gersich and Christian Wolanin which will hurt but they got a couple of good upperclassmen in Rhett Gardner, Nick Jones, and Colton Poolman who’ve announced they’re returning. All in all, we could see other conferences, the B1G in particular, continue to catch up with the NCHC as they’ve really got a deep pipeline of good talent.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Without D.G. and Let’s Go D.U., that he founded , we would be the Trailblazers. That movement was planned and underway until L.G.D.U. and D.G., working behind the curtain, stopped it cold.
    I’d rather lose as a proud Pioneer than win as a tepid Trailblazer. Today we are still Pioneers instead of ugh: I can’t even print that replacement nic again. . Let’s revel in being proud Pioneers.

    This loss is a temporary setback. Our PIoneer nic is now FOREVER!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Most elite college hockey players have ‘advisors’. They pretty much know what the situation is during the course of the year. It is like the NFL when their ‘free agency period’ begins at midnight and everybody signs at 12:01 am.

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  10. I’m pretty sure I always post here under the name DG – DU ‘88. Secondly, I’m not in the Frozen Four Ticket resale business. If DU ain’t playin’ – I ain’t goin’

    That being said, it was a great year following this team mostly on TV. Fun team, explosive scoring & great goaltending. And if it wasn’t for Troy Terry, I wouldn’t of watched one minute of the Winter Olympics.

    Sorry to see our stars leave, but I have a feeling the pipeline will be flowing again. Let’s poach some more players from Motzko so he blows a gasket and rebuild like the Vegas Knights.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. With Motzko bolting for Minnesota that creates an opening now at SCSU which some NCHC fans seem to speculate could be filled with Mike Hastings. If Monty bolts for an NHL gig, the coaching landscape in the NCHC next season will take on a whole new feel.

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      1. My guess is that Monty is at DU for several more years at minimum. The only possibility short-term would be Chicago because DU and Monty have several high-level connections with the Blackhawks. Otherwise, Monty is not going anywhere. There is a better chance that falling dominoes may take away a DU assistant coach. Strictly speculation by me and no inside knowledge. That being said. Monty loves to teach. I believe he will relish the opportunity to rebuild the Pioneers and further burnish his CV.

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