Pioneers Score 5 Unanswered to Erase 3-0 Lead and Escape Tempe with Split

The expectation is always for DU to sweep every series. If the expectation wasn’t for the Pioneers to go unbeaten every season, they wouldn’t be national title contenders year in and year out. However, they still have to play the games, and no matter what, there are going to be bumps in the road. Some of them are bigger than others. It just so happened that for #2 Denver (7-2-1, 2-0-0 NCHC), one of the bigger bumps in their road came in the form of the #16 Arizona State Sun Devils (7-2-1). A night after upsetting the Pioneers in overtime, 6-5, ASU jumped out to a 3-0 second-period lead. But DU captain McKade Webster scored and the Pioneers flipped a switch and never looked back. Denver scored five unanswered goals – four in the second period – and cruised to an 8-4 victory to earn the split at Mullett Arena.

There is just no other way to put the opening 25 minutes of the game, though – Denver looked completely lost. They skated without inspiration, their structure was nonexistent, and Arizona State was doing to them what Denver normally does to their opponents. By the time Sun Devil captain Chris Gratton scored on the breakaway to extend the hosts’ lead to 3-0, DU fans everywhere were about to shut off their televisions to find something better to do with their Saturday evening. Why waste it watching bad hockey?

But, as soon as Webster finished off the rebound from Garrett Brown’s shot, something changed with the Pioneers. All of a sudden, they found their game. They had been punched in the mouth, yes. They were down, yes. But they knew they were not out. Five minutes after Webster’s tally, Miko Matikka scored his third goal of the weekend on a one-timer that ASU goaltender TJ Semptimphelter stopped 95% of during a delayed penalty. Then, Jack Devine, who entered the night tied for second in the country in goals, scored less than a minute later on the ensuing DU power play to tie the game at 3. All of those bad vibes from the opening 25 minutes were gone and the DU team that Pioneer fans have come to know and love was back on their screen.

But Devine wasn’t done. In the closing minutes of the middle frame, he scored his second power-play goal of the night right off of the faceoff to officially cement the comeback and turn the 3-0 deficit into a 4-3 lead. Jared Wright tipped in a Carter King shot early in the third period to make it five straight goals and give the Pioneers their first two-goal lead of the weekend which they ended up needing. Arizona State’s Matthew Kopperud scored on a late Sun Devil power play.  But it wouldn’t be enough for the hosts as King scored as soon as Semptimphelter got to ASU’s bench for the extra attacker. Rieger Lorenz added another empty-netter and Sam Harris beat Semptimphelter one last time with 7 seconds left to seal the 8-4 victory.

As we’ve said a number of times so far this season, this team is going to have to learn a number of lessons and just like Friday night’s OT loss was a lesson, tonight’s victory was an important one too. The Pioneers showed themselves that they can get punched in the mouth, start flat, and still fight their way to a victory. Not only was this a good victory against what looks like will be an NCAA Tournament team on the road, it was also a gritty, gut-check victory that will serve them well down the road.

Freddie Halyk didn’t have his A-game all weekend, the defense struggled, the PK unit was inconsistent if lethal on offense on Friday, and David Carle’s squad has a lot to work on after getting exposed for 10 goals by the Sun Devils. But the work to fix the issues is a lot easier to do after earning a split than it would have been if they were swept.

Plus, let our friend, Red Army Omaha put it all into perspective for you:

It’s a long season. The road split is a good result. It’s now onto Omaha back at Magness Arena next weekend.


12 thoughts on “Pioneers Score 5 Unanswered to Erase 3-0 Lead and Escape Tempe with Split”

  1. Yeah, fine, win 8-4 … but is anyone happy with giving up 4 goals in a win, or giving up 10 goals in a weekend? This isn’t right. Not a good weekend. Call it a road split if you want, I’d say it’s a wakeup. — Chase

    1. You’re not required to ever be happy, Chase but it might behoove you to lighten up. A win is a win is a win. I literally said in the post that there’s a lot they need to clean up and they will but it’s November 11th. And erasing a 3-0 lead in one period is a huge thing. Be mad that it wasn’t perfect, whatever, but whether you, specifically, like it or not, this is a good result for Pairwise purposes.

      I swear, every year, the comment section gets like this, and every year, things end up just fine. Lighten up. Some of you need to just enjoy a win and trust DC, who has MORE than proved himself, to do his thing to clean up what needs to be cleaned up.

      If you’re looking for perfection in goddamn November, then you’re setting yourself up for nothing but anger. Just enjoy a big comeback win for once.

  2. Better get used to the Sun Devils…We’ll be playing this rising team 4 times every year from now on. (Hopefully down there in Jan-Feb so I can drive down to escape Denver winter weather and watch.)

  3. Sorry, Nick. But a team gives up 10 goals in a weekend and I’m going to bring it up. I guarantee Monday’s film session with DC won’t be fun. Other teams will be watching the film and looking to exploit those holes. Earlier, DU gave up 5 to Augstana. This is not a good trend, and come January, things will heat up. I can be a fan without being a sunshine and roses cheerleader. — Chase

    1. Are you also intentionally ignoring the fact that they only gave up 2 all weekend to a much improved CC team or does that not fit into your overly negative narrative?

      I’m not asking fans to be delusional about what’s happening on the ice. Yes, they gave up 10 this weekend. Yes, Freddie Halyk struggled. But man, you’re talking like this has never happened before. Denver always struggles this time of year before they pull it all together later on. Teams learn, teams improve, and you have to go through these issues to build a weathered team come February and March. And hell, I’d absolutely rather see them do this now than cruise through November with no adversity like they did last year.

      I don’t know why you can’t or refuse to see the bigger picture here but extrapolating November results to the rest of the season is ALWAYS a fool’s errand. Always. Last night’s win was a big one. It had its issues, yes, but it was a big one, like it or not.

  4. I thought a 3-goal road comeback win will hold this team in good stead, especially with double-digit new team members. They are young but this should be a confidence builder as the season progresses. Can’t remember the last time we were down three goals and came back to win!

  5. Really glad to see DU bounce back last night and earn a split. After last weekend’s test against CC that DU passed with flying colors, this weekend’s series was certainly different, and DU had some adversity to overcome in a tough road series. I imagine they’ll be some good lessons learned and some coaching points for this young team next week.

    While I don’t see the rivalries with CC and North Dakota ever waning, I’m excited to see this ASU program flourish and help grow the game. DU-ASU might turn into a nice rivalry in the coming years.

  6. Not might Twister. It WILL turn into a hot rivalry because of geography. Phoenix is sitting down there right below Denver. A quick hop plane ride.
    ASU has a very low acceptance hurdle. If you can answer 2 plus 2 is four you’re in. Some academically challenged good hockey players who’s light bulb is barely burning will gravitate to ASU. The growing rivalry will be a positive situation for both schools. John Polli

  7. Nick, lighten up. You’re the one that told people to do something else with their evenings when it was 3-0. People can be disappointed that DU gave up a lot of goals, whether it’s early in the season or late. You don’t have to get so offended by it, just do your work, and don’t be so thin skinned when people have a different opinion than yours. DU fans don’t need to be told what is ok to think and comment about.

    1. Ah just do my work and keep providing this blog for you to read in all of my free time without expressing opinions when I feel things are going off the rails! That’s what you mean, isn’t it? Nah dude, that’s not how this works. I will happily ‘just do my work’ the very second you, specifically, start paying me to do this. Until then, I will be as thin-skinned as I want to be. And if you want to point at the tweets, you should also point to the one where I quipped that I need to go back and delete a bunch of tweets while you’re at it.

      Chase has been a loyal reader and commenter (and kindly signs his name to his comments like any decent person would do instead of hiding behind anonymity) and I know he can handle it when I disagree with him, even if it seems it’s getting heated. I’m ok with him disagreeing with me too. And my responses had less to do with him, specifically, and more to do with what this comment section does every. single. November. when DU inevitably stumbles. Context is always thrown out the window and all so many readers do is complain when things don’t go perfectly according to plan. Hell, in November 2021, this comment section was questioning whether David Carle was right for the job and look what happened five months later. It’s like people forget that this isn’t Sioux Sports where every single irrational opinion is embraced and discussed as though it’s perfectly valid. That’s not the kind of fanbase we want to foster and it’s not the kind of fanbase we should aspire to be. That’s why I said what I said.

      And again, Mr. or Ms. Anonymous, the very second you decide to start transferring some money into my and 5BWest’s bank accounts for what we do on this site, we will happily acquiesce all of your ‘shut up and dribble’ requests. Until then, you have no standing here.

  8. Chase whines more often than not about all things DU lately

    and this isn’t Nicks job
    (“ just do your work” -really???)

  9. I’m just glad we have a place to talk DU sports. The day we don’t get fired up is when it it not fun anymore. I like it when knowledgeable people like Nick and Chase mix it up and give their POV. Bring it on!

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