Pioneers’ Nagging Mistakes Return as Miami Pitches 3-0 Shutout

For all of the progress that the #8 Denver Pioneers (3-5-0, 10 pts) had made since their 0-3 start to the season, the mistakes that led them to that start – poor faceoffs, defensive zone turnovers, third-period mental mistakes leading to opponents’ power plays, an inability to finish on their scoring chances – came back to haunt them against the Miami RedHawks (2-6-0, 7 pts) in a 3-0 shutout loss. Miami played a good, defensive, hard-nosed game and got another stellar 26-save performance from freshman goaltender Ludvig Persson along the way but it was Denver’s self-inflicted wounds that played the starring role in this loss.

The Pioneers, though, never really caught their stride. There were moments where it appeared that DU would take control of the game the same way they did against the RedHawks over the weekend, but Miami’s defensive presence and Persson’s presence in the net kept the Pioneers at bay. All night long, Miami got their sticks in passing and shooting lanes and prevented the Pioneers from sustaining many possessions. To add to Denver’s problems, the Pioneers once again struggled to win faceoffs – they lost the faceoff battle 29-18 –  especially in key moments in the offensive zone to keep possessions alive.

With the Pioneers competing against both themselves and Miami, the RedHawks had the opportunity to dictate the defensive tact of the game. All they needed was a seeing-eye shot from the point by Robby Dranzer early in the second period but they added an insurance dagger of a goal off of a bad third-period turnover in the defensive zone by Kyle Mayhew off of the stick of Matt Barry to make it 2-0. Miami added an empty-net goal for good measure with about a minute and a half left. Any chance to come back for the Pioneers was stymied by their own mistakes like forcing themselves to kill off three penalties including a long five-on-three power play as a result of two bad penalties.

As bad as DU looked against Minnesota Duluth a week ago, they looked even worse against Miami. From start to finish, the Pios were disjointed, disorganized, and at times, disinterested. It was, altogether, a performance befitting a bad, rebuilding hockey team, not one with national title aspirations. It’s difficult to take anything positive away from this game other than the fact that the Pios still have two games left before their Pod experience ends on Sunday. They have to brush this off, come together as a team, and avoid letting this loss fester and build on itself if they’re going to come home with a good taste in their mouth. They play Western Michigan on Saturday and St. Cloud State with a chance at a bit of revenge on Sunday.

Postgame Press Conference


Top photo credit: Mark Kuhlmann/NCHC

6 thoughts on “Pioneers’ Nagging Mistakes Return as Miami Pitches 3-0 Shutout”

  1. That was a tough watch. Seems like the team is totally out of sync. Clearly, all the new faces are taking time to play together and COVID-19 has probably not helped. I think they will get it together – hopefully soon but the faceoffs are getting to be a huge problem. Such an unusual start for a team with such high expectations.

  2. This game was a HUGE step backward for a team that is, by far, the biggest disappointment in the NCHC pod.

    For Denver to be 3-5 at this point is bordering on the mind-boggling, given the returning player talent level and the obvious talent level of newcomers. This team appears to be regressing, rather than progressing, and that should be concerning to everyone.

    Early on, it appeared that improvement in goaltending, face-offs, PK and discipline would turn those close losses into wins, but now, we can add a slumping offense that has scored three goals over the last three games to the aforementioned issues, which still remain. Moreover, we are seeing sporadic levels of effort – slow starts, breakdowns, disconnection, strange turnovers and other signs that this team is clearly not performing at the level that was expected of them.

    The coaches have plenty of film to show the guys, but at then end of the day, I believe what we are seeing on the ice has more to do with the mental side of the game than anything to do with tactics or talent. Something isn’t right on this team, and while there is still time to correct it, it’s on the players and coaches to find the solutions before the entire season slips away…

  3. I think we should chalk this up to the Curse of the Pod. That’s a plausible explanation, right??

    All kidding aside, thus DU team continues to sputter. It’s a perplexing, unsettling, and bewildering season so far. At 3-5, with several uneven performances and a lot of guys underachieving, this team is facing a lot of questions moving forward. Adversity can be good thing, but it all depends on how the team reacts to it. We’ll see…..

    Not much to take away from last night’s game in terms of positivity. The overall compete level wasn’t there, and the execution obviously wasn’t either. Full credit to Miami–they played hard at both ends of the ice, were opportunistic offensively, were effectively physical and limited DU’s time and space, and Persson pitched a shutout. The Redhawks deserved to win.

    The narrative remains the same for this team. Subpar goaltending, struggles with faceoffs (43%), undisciplined/sloppy play at times and ill-timed penalties, 3rd period meltdowns, and a lack of production from the forwards all add up to a struggling and underachieving team. Carle, the other coaches, and the captains have some work to do.

  4. Chrona’s body language is terrible, and it is rubbing off on the rest of the team. The team had much more energy when the Yale transfer played.

  5. Straight up – when DU goaltending is under 90% in saves pct., it’s very hard for DU to win. We haven’t seen goaltending be this poor at DU since Stephen Wagner’s .878 year in 1999-2000. We are certainly used to seeing 92-94% saves percentage goaltending at Denver since the Wade Dubeilewicz’ era 20 years ago, and perhaps we’ve become really spoiled with the long chain of excellent net minders since then – Dubie, Berkhoel, Mannino, Fisher, Cheverie, Brittain, Olkinoura, Jailett, Cowley, Larsson, Cooley, etc. Chrona was a .920 goalie last year, so we know he’s capable of being better than his current .897 svs. pct.

    Team confidence starts with the goaltending, and until DU goalies start turning away more than 90% of the shots, I think it will be hard for DU to get on a roll…

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