Pioneers Topple Mavericks to Take Game One, Close Standings Gap

The Denver Pioneers (7-9-1, 24 pts) have a long road ahead of them if they’re going to defy the odds and earn home-ice advantage in the first round of the NCHC Tournament by finishing in the top four of the conference. The only way Denver will be able to do that is if they start to win games and continue to win games. Cole Guttman tallied three points on a goal and two assists leading the Pioneers to a strong 3-1 victory over the #9 Omaha Mavericks (10-6-1, 30 pts) and helped the Pioneers take a step in the right direction and pull a bit closer to fourth place.

The Pioneers have been excellent in the first games of their weekend series since the Omaha Pod ended, going 3-1 on Friday nights in 2021. On the flip side, they have recorded a 1-2 record on Saturdays over the same period though the argument could be made that their record on Saturdays and really as a whole is not reflective of who the Pioneers are as a team. And tonight Denver showed that against a top-10 team in Omaha holding an otherwise strong offense to just 17 shots throughout the game while allowing its special teams to shine – DU scored twice on the power play, their first power-play goal since splitting with Colorado College, and was a perfect 4-for-4 on the penalty kill.

Even Magnus Chrona who returned from an injury against North Dakota three weeks ago and had struggled at times to that point played a strong game when he didn’t face consistent shots throughout the game. The one goal he did allow was the result of poor defensive zone coverage by DU’s back checkers as opposed to a weak effort from Chrona himself.

Every facet of the game that Denver has struggled with to this point in the season was a non-factor tonight. Denver won the faceoff battle, scored on the power play, and kept the puck out of the net as well as they have all season…again. The difficulty, now, will be replicating this performance in Game Two tomorrow night with a chance to pull to within three points of fourth place and home-ice advantage. Indeed, it’s difficult to sweep teams in the NCHC but if Denver wants to get to where they expect to be, it’s high time they start to pull out the brooms.


David Carle Postgame

Highlights


Top photo courtesy of Denver Athletics

5 thoughts on “Pioneers Topple Mavericks to Take Game One, Close Standings Gap”

  1. Refreshing to hear James Mansfield do the play by play of tonight’s game. Knowledgeable and insightful, student of the game.

  2. DU was pretty much in control of this game, save for a few stretches against a very good Omaha team. DU probably should have scored 5-6 if not for Saville’s 30+ save performance. The Mavs could not really contain the Guttman, Brink and Savoie line, who created chances all night long. I really liked DU’s defense and backchecking, too. The Pios Face-offs, PK and PP were all excellent. Chrona didn’t give up any softies, either and made a few point-blank saves that helped DU to win. In short, it’s all playoff hockey from here out for DU, and yesterday, they more than passed the test…

    Of course, we haven’t seen a sweep all year, and the big question still remaining is whether Denver can be consistent enough over the course of a weekend to sweep a good opponent.

    On thing I am sure Carle will remind them of today is that DU took some penalties in the third period that allowed Omaha to generate some momentum, even if Omaha’s only goal was an even strength one. Top level teams have to shut down others without taking penalties late in games, and that’s still a lesson this team should learn.

  3. Dunker believes any chance we have for a top 4 finish rests on us winning tonight. If we lose and fall 9 points behind Omaha again, we can kiss 4th place goodbye. Not that many games left Pioneer fans. We’ll see what we’re made of against a pretty good Maverick squad.
    In case someone doesn’t know, tonight’s game on CBSsports network at 6pm MT.
    Go Pios

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