The University of Denver Pioneers exploded for six unanswered goals in the second period, with five of those goals in the first eight minutes of that frame, enroute to an easy 7-0 shutout victory over the Miami (Ohio) Red Hawks in the opener of an NCHC series on Jan. 13 at Magness Arena.
Sophomore Carter King led the way for the Pioneers with a three-goal hat trick and Casey Dornbach and Carter Mazur each added a goal and an assist to lead the Denver explosion. McKade Webster and Aidan Thompson also scored for Denver (18-5-0, 9-2 NCHC) in the blowout win. DU senior goalie Magnus Chrona stopped all 20 shots in the shutout victory, his second of the season
“It was a great second period,” said DU coach David Carle after the game in what was perhaps the understatement of the season to date. The #4th ranked Pioneers had not erupted in a single period like that since last year’s National Championship game, when the Pios scored five goals in the third period to win the 2022 NCAA title over Minnesota State, 5-1.
“We a little looked like last year,” said Carle, perhaps referring to that 2022 title game. “The [goal] explosion was great and it was a good all-around effort for us.”
The first period was up-and-down hockey with no goals for either team, but DU began to establish puck possession. The Pioneers came close with a pair of breakaways that were saved by Miami netminder Ludvig Persson. Some DU fans had the sense that dam would eventually break, as the Pioneers were a step faster than Miami all night and certainly had the more skilled lineup from top to bottom.
Those DU fans didn’t have to wait long for the Pioneer goals in that frenetic second period, as DU scored three straight times in the first 1:48, and the Pioneers never looked back. Mazur set the tone by scoring his 17th goal of the year just 26 seconds into the period, converting a perfect feed from Massimo Rizzo on a 2-on-1 with a slick move around Persson for the Pioneers, a goal that would be the eventual game-winner. DU kept its foot on the gas, scoring two more goals in rapid succession, with McKade Webster batting-in Rieger Lorenz’ rebound after it hit the post behind Persson on the power play, followed seconds later by Aidan Thompson’s fortunate marker when the puck took a funny bounce off the glass right to Thomspon for a virtually open net goal to send the Pioneers up, 3-0 all before the first two minutes of the period had elapsed.
Smelling blood and with many in the crowd of 5,528 fans on still on their feet, DU drove-in more dagger goals, with Carter King scoring twice in 40 seconds just six minutes into the period to make it 5-0, and chasing Persson to the showers in the process, as Persson’s Miami teammates were now completely flustered and downcast as DU simply romped over the Red Hawks.
Denver kept scoring as Casey Dornbach blasted a wrister at 15:05 of the second past new Miami goalie Logan Neaton, who had replaced Persson. The period ended with DU up 6-0 and the DU fans standing and roaring in approval as the Pioneers left the ice for the break.
Poetically, King would later complete his DU hat trick on a pretty 2-on-1 conversion on a backhand high over Neaton at 4:15 of the third period, making the final score 7-0 Pios.
“This is time of year where we’re well ingrained into our process as we are all building toward playoff hockey,” said Carle.
With CC’s 4-2 upset win over second place St. Cloud State in Minnesota, DU’s NCHC first-place lead has extended to six points over the Huskies, with DU now with 26 points and SCSU having 20 points in second place.
DU goes for the series sweep Miami again at 6:00 PM MT Saturday night.