Lost faceoffs, power-play goals and missed opportunities all befell Denver in a 4-1 loss Friday night at Ralph Engelstad Arena. But injuries to key Denver forwards may be far more concerning than the Friday night’s 4-1 final.
Denver (17-7-5, NCHC 7-6-4) gave up the first goal of the game 6:21 into the first period. Colton Poolman powered a blue-line blast which was deflected into the net by Shane Pinto. Also, during the first period action, DU lost forward Jaakko Heikkinen who left the game with an undisclosed injury.
During the second period, DU’s bad luck seemed to turn when the Pioneers evened the score after several unsuccessful power-play opportunities. Bobby Brink powered a one-time blast into the upper-right corner of Peter Thome’s goal at 3:13 of the second period to even the game, 1-1. UND struck at 7:36 with their own power-play tally when DU lost yet another faceoff in their defensive end and UND’s Matt Kiersted sent a one-time blast into Devin Cooley’s net, 2-1. Yet again, bad luck struck again a minute later when a Fighting Hawk defender went hard into Bobby Brink’s lower body. Brink limped to the bench and joined Heikkinen in the DU locker room. Denver fought hard the remainder of the second period until 16:35 when UND’s Collin Adams tipped in a mishandled puck by Devin Cooley, 3-1, Fighting Hawks.
In the third period, Denver’s frustration surfaced when Brett Edwards received an untimely 2-minute penalty for contact-with-the-head against a Fighting Hawk player. Once again, Denver gave up a power-play goal, this time to Jacob Bernard-Docker withn an assist by Collin Adams at 11:14 of the third period, 4-1 UND. Denver created a number of quality scoring chances the final ten minutes but could never solve Peter Thome.
While Denver actually out-shot North Dakota (54-32), the Pioneers could not finish off their chances. And, by losing the faceoff battle (43-21) by a wide margin, DU gave up far too many possessions to stay in the game against a dangerous North Dakota team. But the biggest loss may be injuries to key faceoff forward Jaakko Heikenen and freshman forward Bobby Brink.
The teams square off again Saturday night at 6:07 pm MT in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
Photo: Courtesy Denver Athletics