Offensive Struggles and Penalties Haunt Denver in North Dakota 5-2 Loss

Denver faced #1 North Dakota in the final meeting of the regular season between the two teams. Following a penalty-filled affair Friday night, the Fighting Hawks were forced to start goalie Peter Thome in net. Denver played the Fighting Hawks even 5-on-5 the first two periods but unwise penalties and a continued inability to score finished off the Pioneers’ chances in what could have been a big road win in what has become a dismal regular season. With the victory, North Dakota wins the season series 4-2.

Denver carried the early pace of play but UND earned first blood on a Jasper Weatherby tip-in goal at 5:02 gave the Fighting Hawks the lead, 1-0. The snipe came through traffic before finding Weatherby’s stick and was UND’s first shot of the game. At 12:18, DU’s Jake Durflinger left the penalty box and dashed to the North Dakota blue line, received a long pass assisted by Antti Tuomisto and McCade Webster and scored a one-on-one breakaway goal to draw even at 1-1. Denver had the best of the Fighting Hawks, outshooting the home team 13-5 in the first 20 minutes, despite three two-minute penalties.

The second period started as a back and forth affair with limited opportunities on each side. Then, at 12:17,  a strong UND forecheck pinned the puck along the boards. A loose puck found its way to Jacob Bernard-Docker who bounced a wrist shot off the DU post which ricocheted to Shane Pinto who lifted the puck into the net, 2-1, UND. With under nine minutes to go, Shane Pinto drove in on an odd-man rush for UND but DU intercepted his errant pass. On the turnover, DU’s Carter Savoie scored with an assist from Ryan Barrow on a  beautiful two-on-one breakaway to knot the score 2-2. UND went on the power play once again on a Jack Doremus boarding call and it took North Dakota thirty seconds to find pay dirt on a blast from Colin Adams, 3-2 UND. The game got chippy with 1:10 to go as UND’s Riece Gaber tackled Cole Guttman and both players were sent to the box as the game went to 4-on-4 play. The period ended peacefully, 3-2.

The third period unraveled for Denver as their chance for victory wilted as the Fighting Hawks surged to a 21-20 shots-on-goal advantage. At 6:20 of the third period, an ill-advised Carter Savoie cross-check sent Brendan Budy into the boards resulting in a 5-minute major and game misconduct. Denver handled the penalty with relative ease but was punished shortly after time expired. UND’s Judd Cauldfield launched a harmless shot on goal from the right dot that was rebounded by Jasper Weatherby who shot the puck past Magnus Chrona, 4-2. With four minutes to go, Denver went on a 2-man advantage powerplay for one minute and 21 seconds but both UND penalties expired with no Pioneer goals. At 1:03, UND buried an easy open-net goal by Judd Cauldfield to put a exclamation mark on the final score, 5-2.

After the game, David Carle lamented too many Pioneer penalties, the second-period UND power-play goal and DU’s 5-on-3 powerplay failure in the third period. But, after two solid periods of play, it was the third period that showed the Pioneers inability to score timely goals, take advantage of powerplay opportunities (0-4/game), and create stops when they needed them the most. That being said, the Pioneers did show that they can skate with UND 5-on-5 in Grand Forks for forty minutes. If these teams meet again in the NCHC playoffs, Denver will need to play a solid 60-minute game to earn the win.

DU has a bye next weekend and the Gold Pan series against Colorado College ends the regular season for DU in two weeks, unless an additional postponed series with CC from January is re-scheduled before the NCHC playoffs.

Postgame comments by Head Coach David Carle:


Photo: Courtesy of North Dakota Athletics

18 thoughts on “Offensive Struggles and Penalties Haunt Denver in North Dakota 5-2 Loss”

  1. It didn’t look like a 5-minute penalty to me but the officials were not going to put up with any nonsense after last night.

  2. UND was the better team this weekend and fully deserving of the sweep. UND got scoring, PPGs and great goaltending, while DU came up short in all three of those areas.

    Game, set, match, UND.

    And while I can deal with the scoreboard as Pio fan, I really didn’t like some of the on-ice conduct from the Pioneers this weekend.

    I saw DU’s frustration turn to lack of character and some reckless, garbage plays. DU took some really stupid penalties that not only really hurt their chances to win, but injured their opponent and culminated with two DU players getting kicked out of games/suspended, one of them a senior captain in a league suspension and the other a game misconduct by the team’s leading scorer for checking from behind. Just because other teams sometimes play dirty doesn’t mean DU should play that way.

    I know it’s a rivalry series. And I know UND always plays with that kind of edge, and DU needs to not be intimidated by it.

    But I also believe DU should not be kneeing the other team’s goalies or taking dumb CFBs, either.

    I hope DC will sit down with DU team and talk to them about playing the game the right way the rest of the season, whatever the results may be.

    Make us fans proud, not ashamed.

  3. PioFan

    “Releasing the Hounds”? Really?

    I can see why some DU players might be frustrated, but I guess you and I have very different standards of player behavior.

    Perhaps if DU channeled their earlier frustrations into a higher level of team performance, the team would not be 7-12-1 at this point, nor would the captain be getting a league suspension for running a goalie and/or the top scorer be getting ejected for his dangerous check from behind.

    As DU fans, we all feel some pain this year at what has transpired to date, but I believe that it’s the coaches’ job to recruit, select, train and play athletes that will represent our university well, win or lose.

    It’s also the coaches’ job to maintain team discipline when things don’t go well.

  4. In post game questions to David Carle, he said Crone was not at North Dakota and it was an internal decision. So, not injured.

  5. I am not sure what the coaches have been doing this year. Lack of discipline, mediocre goal tending and inconsistent effort will produce less than favorable results. I am tired of excuses.

  6. UND Fan here.

    DU is a darn good hockey team and I know this has been a tough year for DU. UND went through a somewhat similar season in the 2017-2018 season where UND would outplay opponents for large stretches of games but just couldn’t win them.

    In a one and done tournament, anyone who has to play DU, better take note because DU can string together a pretty impressive run.

    For what it’s worth, I wouldn’t be surprised, in the least, if DU still makes the NCAA tourney by way of winning the NCHC tourney.

  7. How many times did UND run Chrona this year? Sometimes you have to respond. They certainly didn’t punish North Dakota on the power play ,that’s the preferred method! They lost their cool, and I hope it’s a one off thing.. DU normally plays the game the “right way”. It’s an emotional game. Sometimes it’s just hard to keep a lid on things.

  8. Is DU a better team at this point in the season than in December? I think not. That is on the coaches. I don’t see elite athletes on the ice.. think Borgstrom, Gambrell and Butcher. That too is on the coaches. I thought Carle was going to be a good coach. It looks like he was only good because of Montgomery’s players. I think we are in for some lean years. Too many 5’9″ players.

  9. It’s still too early to tell how good a coach Carle is. He needs to have a full four year cycle of all his recruits before we can start to judge that, and that starts next season, after year 5.

    Certainly, this year has been a big step backwards (at least so far). The goaltending has been well below standards, as has the goalscoring. Are the players getting better? Chrona has regressed, clearly, and that is a concern. The three grad transfers have all been a bust. Jandric, Hanson and Kaczperski have all underperformed and have not contributed at the level I was expecting them to contribute.

    On D, Demin and Lee are both a full notch better than they were a year ago. Mendel has regressed from where he was (-9 from +15?). Mayhew is about the same, Tuomisto, Benning and Irwin have all had very good freshmen years. Krenzen hasn’t played much.

    Up front, Savoie has been a fantastic surprise, leading the team in scoring, but other than that, the other forwards aren’t really much producing more than they did last year, even with a year of development and more ice time for many of them. Granted the competition is tougher this season, with all league games and more games against rival teams, but nobody has really taken a big leap forward from where they were last year. That is concerning. Stapely has been hurt a lot, Brink has been good with assists but has only scored once this year. Barrow, Heikkenen, Durflinger, Doremus and Olichefski are what they are at this point in their careers as seniors – consistent players, but not really getting better than they were last year. Guttman has so much talent but has been invisible at times – at least his face-offs are improving. I like Webster and Caponi so far as freshman additions. Webster has versatility and Caponi beings a much needed physical dimension. Edwards and Crone don’t see much action, with lots of scratches this year. Too early to tell if Works and King will be impact guys.

    All in all, DU really misses having a true power forward like UND’s Shane Pinto. Barrow and Olischefski try to play that role, but with far less effectiveness. Against big, heavy teams, our 5-9 guys can struggle in puck battles.

  10. Sorry Swami, undisciplined play, needless penalties and underperformances falls on the coaching staff. Listen to Carle’s interviews. I hear no passion, no sense of urgency. Just excuses. Sorry, I don’t accept mediocrity in my life and there is no reason I should accept it from this team. As they say in Texas, it’s time to fish or cut bait.

  11. Brad Berry at North Dakota had a few choppy seasons (after he inherited Hackstol’s players who won a Natty). North Dakota seems to be playing pretty well the last two seasons (#1 rank). He is not exactly a ‘dynamic’ public leader. If David Carle was ever let go there would be a long line of folks wanting to interview him. His style is to manage issues behind the scenes and I think that is the way most players want it. On another point, while I think it was dirty for our captain to dump Scheels from behind, after three runs at his goalie by UND, Kohen Olischefski has to show some leadership. If he did nothing and DU got swept, people would be saying DU has no heart and leadership. I think there are a number of reasons for this season but we need to pump the brakes. DU is going to be just fine – and even now, a tough ‘out’ for most teams.

    1. I don’t think current results signal the ‘end’ of DU excellence in hockey. That type of prediction is rediculous with COVID-19 restrictions, abbreviated schedules, 12 new players (who probably never heard of the Tenzer streak). One DU coach (not hockey) who I will not name said that when DU teams travel to other states, the other schools and teams do not have the same rigid restrictions DU has for their athletes. Not complaining but recognizing opponents do not face Colorado/DU requirements to play/practice. Yes, DU is probably not going to make the NCAA playoffs this season but I believe they will be ‘just fine’. Denver has a deep, experienced coaching staff and a solid recruiting pipeline.

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