Denver Wins Sixth Straight Behind Lukosevicius, Larsson

Photo courtesy of DenverPioneers.com

The Denver Pioneers defeated the Omaha Mavericks 1-0 with the help of Filip Larsson’s 21 saves

After being on the road for all of December, the Pioneers returned to Magness Arena and came away with a win against Omaha 1-0.  It was a true goaltender dual between Denver’s Filip Larsson and Omaha’s Evan Weninger, but the Pioneers came out on top.  The game’s only goal came from Jarid Lukosevicious who was set up nicely by Emilio Pettersen at the end of the second period.  The Pioneers ride a six-game winning streak into next week when they face Colorado College.

Let’s get into tonight’s recap.

First period

It was clear from the start that Omaha wanted to play a good road game.  They chipped pucks deep and set the tone physically.  Their defenseman stepped up on the Pioneer forwards and laid out a few punishing hits.  The Omaha centerman were also very physical in the faceoff circle, often tying up the Denver centermen and kicking out the puck.

There weren’t any shots in the first 6-7 minutes, then the teams began exchanging chances.  The line of Jarid Lukosevicius, Cole Guttman, and Emilio Pettersen had a few nice shifts cycling the puck in the Omaha zone, but couldn’t finish anything.  For a while, the only shots getting through to either goalie were from the point with traffic in front.

The story of the first period was Filip Larsson, as well as Omaha goaltender Evan Weninger.  Both goalies made key saves, but the one that stood out the most was when Filip Larsson stopped Tristan Keck on a breakaway late in the period.  Larsson looked composed and made several high-danger saves.

Second period

The second period was a grind for the first 19 minutes.  Both teams struggled to get anything going offensively.  The neutral zone was clogged and there wasn’t much room to skate.

The Pioneers went on the powerplay early when Taylor Ward boarded Griffin Mendel.  Omaha goalie Evan Weninger made some huge saves on the Pioneers who started putting on the pressure.  Liam Finlay had a great opportunity one-on-one with Weninger, but was stopped trying to shoot five-hole.  Michael Davies also had a good chance when he had a laser-fast pass to Cole Guttman through the slot, but Weninger got a piece of it.

With less than two minutes remaining in the second, Emilio Pettersen entered the Maverick’s zone and beat his defender to the outside.  He found Jarid Lukosevicius in the slot who put the puck past Weninger for the first goal of the night.

At the end of the period, the Pioneers took a penalty for holding and started the third period on the penalty kill.

Third period

The third period had much more intensity than the first two periods.  Four minutes in, Jarid Lukosevicius was checked into the boards hard by Tyler Weiss, but only a minor penalty was called.  Luko also went to the box because he retaliated with a slash after the play.

The Pioneers also had another weird penalty when the team got a bench minor with seven minutes left in the game.  Although the Mavericks put on a lot of shots on Larsson in the third, the defense was still able to clear pucks out of the zone.

With two minutes left in the game, Larsson had to stand on his head to keep the Pioneers in front.  At one point it was 6 on 5 and shots were coming from every direction.  Denver stayed perfect on the PK and avoided an Omaha goal in the final minute of the game, sealing their sixth straight victory 1-0 over Omaha.

What we learned

  • The Pioneers continue to let very few shots through to their goaltender.  A combination of smart transition play and their willingness to block shots is limiting their opponents to few quality chances
  • Filip Larsson is a calm and cool goaltender that doesn’t over-commit to much.  He saw the puck really well tonight and wasn’t fooled by any Omaha forwards.  His confidence has to be sky high winning his 5th game this season and he seems to be 100% healthy after missing several games this year
  • While the offense wasn’t there tonight, the Pioneers still battled throughout the whole game.  They fought for loose pucks and played like they were down a goal, not the other way around.

Up next

Next the Pioneers play their first of two home-and-home series with rivals Colorado College.  The Tigers are 8-10-2 and sit at the bottom of the NCHC standings, but points never seem to matter when these teams meet in battle for the Gold Pan.

The Tigers recently lost top scoring forward Nick Halloran to injury for the rest of the season, but they still have Mason Bergh and Trey Bradley who can still do some damage.  They also have a few freshman that are giving them depth scoring.  It will most likely be an entertaining series, as always.