Calling tonight’s road series opener against #4 St. Cloud State (17-6-0, 9-4-0 NCHC) a night to forget would be an understatement for the #3 Denver Pioneers (16-6-0, 10-3-0 NCHC). Everything that could go wrong, especially late in the second and into the third period, did, Magnus Chrona was pulled after six goals in the third period, and DU’s confounding, bad penalty kill gave up three power play goals in five chances.
The Pios kept it close through the first half of the game and led 2-1 early in the second period, but after Brett Edwards pulled the Pioneers back to within one at 4-3 in the second, Veeti Meittinen and Grant Cruikshank each scored a power play goal in the second and third period, respectively, and put the game out of reach. Mason Salquist scored the empty-netter in the final minute to put the extra-point on the scoreboard and put the finishing touches on DU’s worst defensive game of the season in terms of goals allowed.
The unacceptably bad penalty kill continues to be a big problem for an otherwise elite team and they are going to have to solve quickly if the Pios are going to earn a road split and remain alone atop the NCHC standings tomorrow night.
We will have more analysis of this game and tomorrow’s series finale in our road trip recap on Sunday.