Second Period Pioneers Score Three Against Bulldogs En Route to 9th Straight Victory

The #3 Denver Pioneers (21-5-1, 14-3-0-1 NCHC, 41 pts) have the country’s best offense. But you already knew that. The Denver Pioneers boast the country’s highest-scoring player in Bobby Brink (But you already knew that too). What you may not have known is that after outscoring the #6 Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs (14-11-3, 7-6-3-0-1-1 NCHC, 26 pts) 3-1 in the second period, the Pioneers are now outscoring opponents 55-16 in the second period this season which is among the country’s best marks for that stat. As a result of another dominant second period, for the ninth straight time, the Pioneers won, this time a 5-3 effort over the Bulldogs, just their second in their last 10 meetings, dating back to the 2019 NCHC Frozen Faceoff semifinal.

Denver’s second period was the difference tonight, but the night’s biggest highlight came on the penalty kill in the first period off sophomore forward Carter King’s stick when he banked the puck off of UMD goaltender Ryan Fanti’s skate after an effective forecheck. UMD did answer back just a minute later on the same power play to cap the first-period scoring. But from there, it was all Denver.

After outshooting the Bulldogs 17-8 in the first period, Denver scored three goals on their seven second-period shots while holding the Bulldogs to seven of their own in the second and just four in the third. In terms of overall attempts, though, Denver out-attempted UMD 66-35 throughout the game. The Pioneers were relentless on the attack, especially in the second period and they were rewarded on the scoreboard against an elite goaltender in Ryan Fanti.

“It’s been really fun to play with a bunch of guys who can put the puck in the back of the net,” Guttman said. “It’s been a lot of fun having freshmen step up too to put the goals in and we’re scoring five goals almost every night so it’s been a lot of fun.”

In that second period, Mike Benning and McKade Webster sandwiched Cole Guttman’s 50th career goal. Benning’s marker which came on the power play was the result of a won faceoff and a crisp pass across the offensive zone to the left circle where the junior defenseman has scored many of his 10 goals this season. Guttman’s goal, which made him the 60th player in program history to reach 50, came after the top line showed why it’s possibly the most feared line in all of college hockey. Guttman fed Brink who then immediately got it back to Guttman in the slot before the senior captain fired the puck past an out-of-position Fanti. Webster capped DU’s second period with a shot that was tipped over Fanti by a Bulldog defenseman trying to block the shot for the game’s first five-on-five goal.

“The team is obviously doing well [in the second period],” Benning said. “I think my goal just kind of kicked it off and gave the boys a kickstart to start scoring.”

They did give up a goal to the Bulldogs in the final minute of the period but it was as good a second period as Denver has played this season. They swarmed to the puck in all three zones, smothered the Bulldogs in the defensive zone, and were extremely opportunistic with their chances.

In 2017, when the Pioneers won their 8th national title, they outscored opponents 70-27 in the middle frame and then-head coach Jim Montgomery often talked about his team’s ‘Proscess’ which included outscoring teams in the second period. Their performance in the second period that year was a key reason why the Pioneers had so much success throughout the whole year.

“I was texting with [former Pioneer] Dylan Gambrell this week and he was talking about the second periods,” Denver head coach David Carle said. “I told him I looked it up and our 2017 team had 70 goals for, 27 against. In college hockey, I think you have to be a great second-period team to win a lot of hockey games and our guys are doing that, which is awesome.”

As has been the case so many times this season, the third period felt a bit unnecessary. Denver once again had effectively won the game in the second period and put the Bulldogs far enough down that a comeback felt unlikely at best and closer to impossible. No, the Bulldogs didn’t just give up and they certainly had a chance, but when the Pioneers play as well as they did tonight and suppress and minimize the opposition’s scoring chances like they did tonight, a victory feels like a foregone conclusion.

UMD’s Tanner Laderoute added a goal off of a great back-door feed from Owen Gallatin after Brink’s empty-net goal with less than a minute and a half left, but like the rest of the final period, it didn’t really matter. The Pioneers had the victory in hand and were ready to prepare for game two tomorrow night.

With the victory, Denver remains unbeaten at home with a 14-0-1 record, with the lone blemish coming in a 4-4 tie with Alaska-Fairbanks. With an unexpectedly strong snowstorm keeping most people at home, 5,572 fans showed up to Magness Arena and were treated to another great showing by the Pioneers.

“We want to reward our home fans,” Carle said. “We always appreciate the support that Magness provides. I thought the fans were engaged once they got through the snowstorm, we know that was a challenge to get into the building tonight, so we appreciate everyone coming out and we expect another full building tomorrow night.

“It adds a lot for our players. They feed off that energy and that support, and I think that’s obviously apparent in our home record this year.”


3 thoughts on “Second Period Pioneers Score Three Against Bulldogs En Route to 9th Straight Victory”

  1. Strong effort last night against a good Duluth team. Despite giving up 3 goals, I thought DU played well defensively. I actually wondered if Chrona got bored at times during the game, as UMD never mounted much of a sustained attack. The forwards backchecked well, and DU didn’t give Duluth a whole lot of space and time. Conversely, DU had a sustained forecheck most of the game and kept the pressure on. Even in the 3rd period, when DU seemed to ease off the gas a bit and play a more methodical game, they still were effective at limiting UMD’s zone time and puck possession. Pios came in waves in the second period, though. That was impressive. When all 4 lines are rolling and flying around, it’s fun to watch.

    Speaking of Chrona, my guess is he’d like to have those first two goals back. The first one was just sort of flung at the net from above the dots, and Chrona just seemed to miss it. I don’t think he was screened on that shot. The second one was eye level, he tried to glove it, the puck dropped straight down, and Duluth put in an easy rebound. Overall, though, he really wasn’t tested a whole lot.

    Looking forward to tonight and seeing if the Pios can put together another impressive sweep of an NCHC opponent.

  2. Great home win. Pios stay rolling offensively, and they are a joy to watch when they are possessing the puck and scoring goals. Truly. They remind me of the 2017 DU NCAA title team in the way they can score in bunches, especially in the second period. Must be brutal for opponents to know that DU can (and will) score 4 or 5 in most games.

    But unlike the 2017 team, this DU team has poor penalty killing (bottom quartile) and inconsistent goaltending, which was not a problem on the 2017 team,

    More often than not, the 5 GPG DU offense can cover for their problems, but that said, as a I hope Chrona can get more consistency in his game down the stretch. As long as the Pios are scoring 5 goals a game, Chrona can let in a couple of softies and the Pios will still win, but come playoff time where one-and-dones can ruin a great season, goals are much harder to come by, PKs matter and Chrona will need to be sharper if DU dreams of Boston…

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