Resilient Pioneers Top Friars, 3-1

Photo: Courtesy Kelly O’Connor

Following last weekend’s  Minnesota-Duluth series, the Pioneers (7-3-1, 3-3-0-0) had every reason to collapse when the Providence Friars (7-4-1, 4-2-0) tied the game 1-1 in the third period. With the visitors enjoying a significant face-off advantage, shots-on-goal, and penalty-minutes-served advantage, Denver overcame it all and responded with flying colors with two opportunistic goals in the third period to win, 3-1. And, again, Devin Cooley was a rock in goal for the Pioneers with 39 saves.

Denver got on the board when Les Lancaster sent a blast from the point and Colin Staub poked it in for a 1-0 lead at 16:29 of the 2nd period. Denver played nearly flawless on the power play for the night, defending the ice for 16 minutes and 59 seconds of total penalty time before the Friars found pay dirt and tied the Pioneers five minutes into the third period.

But, instead of going into a shell after giving up the lead, the Pioneers went on the attack. Jaakko Heikkinen poked in the game winner in traffic with an assist from Jarid Lukosevicius three minutes later to retake the lead. And, once again, the opportunistic Pioneers extended the lead at 12:25 of the third period with a tic-tac-toe tap-in by Tyler Ward with assists from Brett Stapley and Slava Demin. The Pioneers played smart hockey the balance of the game pushing the puck into the Providence zone and moving their feet on defense.

Denver withstood deficits in penalty minutes (17 to 12), shots (30-40) and face-offs (29-39) but none of that made any difference because Denver kept working hard and playing smart – making the most of their chances Friday night. And, the win speaks volumes of David Carle and his team learning to keep their foot on the pedal – even when Providence came back in the third period.

STARS OF THE GAME

*Tyler Ward

**Jaakko Heikkinen

***Devin Cooley

The two teams return to Magness Arena tomorrow night at 7:07 PM MT.