Special Teams Falter as Denver Falls to Providence, 4-3

1-for-9. That’s what #2 Denver’s (2-1-0,0-0-0) power play did in their third game of the season. One-for-nine. The Pioneers fell to the #10 Providence Friars (3-1-0, 0-0-0 HE) 4-3 on Friday night in DU’s first of two games in New England due, in large part, to its power play’s sheer ineffectiveness. The penalty kill, for its part, struggled too statistically, going just 3-for-5 but the second goal that unit gave up – the game-winner – was nothing more than an unlucky bounce.

For all of Denver’s offensive firepower, going one-for-nine in a single game is indefensible, especially against a goalie who wasn’t necessarily on his A-game. Shai Buium scored the game’s first goal – off of a feed from his younger brother Zeev – on Denver’s first power play of the game. From there? 0-for-8.

Providence didn’t hold a lead until almost halfway through the third period but the Pioneers couldn’t punish the Friars for their sheer lack of discipline and put the game away. Nate Leaman’s group is always a scrappy bunch and if you allow them to stay in the game long enough, they’re going to make you pay. That’s just what they did tonight.

Jack Devine scored his fifth goal of the season at even-strength to make it 2-1 in the second period while Massimo Rizzo gave the Friar faithful a few nervous moments in the final minutes when he scored with the extra attacker to make it 4-3. But none of it was enough to erase the power play’s struggles and the Pioneers sustained their first loss of the season.

At the end of the day, this is a young team that is going to have to learn some hard lessons. Sometimes you learn those lessons in wins and sometimes you learn them in losses. Tonight, it was the latter and the lesson is this: you can’t go one-for-nine on the power play and expect to win against anyone at this level of the sport, let alone the #10 team in the country. The challenge only gets harder now as DU travels north to Chestnut Hill, MA to take on #3 Boston College, who took RPI to the woodshed, 6-1 tonight.

But hey, if you’re looking for a silver lining to tonight? The last time Denver lost a one-goal game to the Providence College Friars in Rhode Island, they went on to win their ninth national title. Maybe, juuuuuuuust maybe losing in Providence is exactly what this program needs.


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