All posts by Aaron Goldschmidt

Pioneers, Cooley Shutout No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth 2-0

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In a highly anticipated match up in college hockey, the Denver Pioneers and Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs didn’t disappoint fans who were in attendance at Magness Arena Friday night.  Although the game started a bit slow, the second and third periods resembled a nail-biting playoff game.

It was expected that the last two National Champions would put up some offense, but it was a tightly checked game.  Let’s get right into it.

First period

The game started on a bad note for the Pioneers when Brett Stapley checked Duluth defenseman Scott Perunovich awkwardly into the boards just 40 seconds into the 1st period.  After review, it was determined that it was a major penalty and Stapley was ejected from the game.  But this was far from the last penalty called in the first period.  Duluth had their own major boarding call but Louie Roehl was not ejected.  There was a total of eight penalties called in the first 20 minutes of the game between both teams.

There seemed to be no control of the puck by either team throughout the period.  Pucks were being chipped in deep and there was little space to skate.  The Pioneers had a few good chances including a breakaway by Cole Guttman and an odd man rush by Colin Staub and Jakko Heikkinen, but Duluth goaltender Hunter Shepard kept everything out of the net.

The Bulldogs defense didn’t let many pucks through all night.  They held the Pioneers to just two shots on goal in the first period.  Led by St. Louis Blues 2018 2nd-round pick Scott Perunovich, the Bulldogs played a low risk game by chipping pucks out of their zone and moving it quickly up the ice out of danger.

The period ended with Duluth leading in shots 7-2.

Second period

The pace started to pick up in the second period.  It seemed like Duluth skated even harder when they were on the penalty kill.  But halfway through the period, the Pioneers went on the powerplay and Ian Mitchell finally got the Pioneers on the board.

After the goal, Duluth started putting the pressure on.  The Pioneers were in prevent mode, shooting pucks off the glass just to keep it out of their zone.  The Bulldogs had several chances, shooting from almost everywhere on the ice.

Devin Cooley stood tall and made some very difficult saves.  After the end of the second, the Bulldogs put 25 shots on Cooley but with no goals.  That’s a pretty significant feat for a backup goaltender to shutout the No. 1 team in the country through two periods.

Third period

In the third period, Duluth came even harder.  They put on another 13 shots on Devin Cooley who had to make save after save to keep the Pioneers in the game.  He was great positionally and really saw the puck well.

David Carle understood what it meant to host the top team in the nation and be up by one goal going into the 3rd period.  He started mixing up lines in the second half of the game, putting a huge emphasis on defense.  The Pioneers got the puck deep and began cycling deep in Duluth’s zone to kill the clock.

We saw several close plays right in front of the Pioneers net, but players were sacrificing their bodies left and right to keep the puck out.  In the last few minutes of the game, Duluth pulled their goalie and put a lot of pressure on the Pioneers.  But with 36 seconds left in the game, Jarid Lukosevicius scored an empty net goal to seal the game.

What we learned

This game was huge for the Pioneers.  It had to be difficult coming home after being swept by the St. Cloud State Huskies, but David Carle had his players focused on what was in front of them.  The Pioneers skated hard and battled through adversity in the form of a ton of penalties.  They didn’t get many shots on net, but they made the best of what they were given.  In games like these, you need your best players to step up, and Ian Mitchell did just that.

Up next

The Pioneers and Bulldogs play again Saturday night in what will be another exciting game.  The Bulldogs can’t be happy after their long winning streak was broken by the Pioneers, and there is no question they will come out hard tomorrow.  The Pioneers will need to do a better job suppressing shots and getting better control of the puck.  Both teams forechecked extremely well so moving the puck quickly will be important.  The Pios will have to shoot more tomorrow night if they want a chance at sweeping the Bulldogs.

Denver Hockey Series Preview: Minnesota Duluth

Photo courtesy of the Duluth News Tribune

This weekend the past two NCAA National Champions faceoff when the Denver Pioneers host the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs

Coming off a pair of losses to No. 2 St. Cloud State, the No. 7 Denver Pioneers have to quickly regroup before they host No. 1 Minnesota Duluth.  The NCHC continues to be the elite conference in college hockey, making for several great series every year, including this one.  There are a total of 12 players who have already been drafted to NHL teams so will be no shortage of star-power this weekend at Magness Arena. Continue reading Denver Hockey Series Preview: Minnesota Duluth

Denver Hockey Series Preview: St. Cloud State

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The Denver Pioneers and St. Cloud State Huskies battle this weekend for early NCHC supremacy

It was all positive vibes last weekend when the Pioneers swept the Western Michigan Broncos.  Jarid Lukosevicious put on a show with five goals which earned him the NCAA’s first star of the week and the NCHC’s offensive player on the week.  Defenseman Ian Mitchell also won NCHC honors as the defenseman of the week. Continue reading Denver Hockey Series Preview: St. Cloud State

Denver Hockey Series Preview: Western Michigan

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The No. 7 Pioneers welcome first NCHC opponent, Western Michigan

After a long bye-week, the Denver Pioneers are back this weekend hosting Western Michigan in their first NCHC matchup of the season.  The Broncos are 3-3 but are putting up an average of almost four goals per game.  With no timetable in place for the return of Pioneer’s freshman goaltender Filip Larsson, the pressure will again be on Devin Cooley to carry the Pios in a potentially high-scoring series.

Denver should have swept the University of Alaska two weeks ago, but got caught flat-footed in the second game of the series.  The Pioneers fought back and managed to earn a tie which showed great team resiliency.  But the Broncos present a challenge that is familiar to many returning Denver players. Continue reading Denver Hockey Series Preview: Western Michigan

Denver Hockey Series Preview: University of Alaska Fairbanks

Photo courtesy Shannon Valerio/Denver Athletics

The Pioneers look to build on last weekend’s success when they welcome the University of Alaska-Fairbanks Nanooks this weekend

It sure was sweet watching David Carle lead the Pioneers to two consecutive wins last weekend, a fantastic start to the young head coach’s career.  But as you look around the NCHC, the conference as a whole is already having some early success (of course, the exception being North Dakota).  That being said, Denver can use all the confidence they can get before conference games begin. Continue reading Denver Hockey Series Preview: University of Alaska Fairbanks

Denver Defeats Air Force 4-1 in David Carle’s Debut as Head Coach

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The Pioneers came into Cadet Ice Arena Friday night ready to compete

After a long off-season, the Denver Pioneers were certainly excited to get back to work Friday night in Colorado Springs against the Air Force Falcons.  With half of the top six forwards being rookies, it was difficult to predict how the team would play, but chemistry was there. Continue reading Denver Defeats Air Force 4-1 in David Carle’s Debut as Head Coach

Denver Hockey Weekend Preview: Air Force & Alabama-Huntsville

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The Denver Pioneers start the 2018-19 season on the road with a tough game against the Air Force Falcons

Welcome back Pioneers fans!  After a long summer, college hockey is finally back and it couldn’t have come any sooner.  There have been several questions surrounding the Denver Pioneers this offseason regarding their new leadership behind the bench and on the ice, but only time will tell how the young group transitions.

In the first USCHO poll of the season, the Pioneers are ranked #10 in the country.  They are joined in the top 20 by fellow NCHC members #3 Minnesota-Duluth, #5 St. Cloud State, #13 North Dakota, and #18 Western Michigan.  It’s safe to say the NCHC will be uber-competitive yet again this year. Continue reading Denver Hockey Weekend Preview: Air Force & Alabama-Huntsville

Denver captain Logan O’Connor shines at Avalanche Development Camp

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Forward Logan O’Connor turned heads Sunday at the Colorado Avalanche 3-on-3 rookie game scoring four goals

FORT COLLINS, Colo. – In the past couple month’s, a lot has changed for the University of Denver Pioneers hockey club.  Their head coach Jim Montgomery made the jump to the NHL signing with the Dallas Stars, their top three leading scorers left school early to turn pro, and two of their biggest leaders in Adam Plant and Tariq Hammond have graduated.  Amidst all the change, forward Logan O’Connor continues to do what he does best to be successful; work hard. Continue reading Denver captain Logan O’Connor shines at Avalanche Development Camp

Denver Hockey Regional Semifinal Preview: Penn State

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The Denver Pioneers enter the NCAA Tournament as NCHC Champs against the Penn State Nittany Lions

After an impressive 4-1 win against the St. Cloud State Huskies last Saturday, the Denver Pioneers were crowned NCHC Conference champions.  With goals from Kohen Olischefski, Jake Durflinger, Ryan Barrow, and Dylan Gambrell, the Pioneers showed that their depth played a major role in the game.  But the bigger picture win is that the Pioneers beat a team who they shared the #1 USCHO ranking with all season in their own barn.  That added confidence is a huge boost to the Pioneers going into the NCAA Tournament. Continue reading Denver Hockey Regional Semifinal Preview: Penn State

Denver Hockey NCHC Semifinals Preview: Minnesota-Duluth

Photo courtesy of The Denver Post

The Denver Pioneers will face the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs Friday for a chance to play in the Conference Championship

And then there were four.

The Pioneers faced an early test when they lost the first of a three-game series with Colorado College, but a team-wide urgency set in.  They got better after each game and played a full 60 minutes last Sunday when they ended the Tigers’ season.

This team is different from last season’s because they aren’t relentless on a nightly basis.  But when their backs are up against the wall, they turned into that championship team that we all know.  Hopefully they bring that version of themselves to the Xcel Energy Center for the final games of the Frozen Faceoff.

Although Minnesota-Duluth hasn’t beaten Denver all year, there is no question that they can.  Every game with them this season has been decided by one goal and have been close games the whole time.  We should anticipate more of the same coming into Friday night.

The Bulldogs have been on a roll of late winning seven of their last eight games.  They had no problems in their first-round playoff matchup by sweeping the Western Michigan Broncos.  Goaltender Hunter Shepard posted two shutouts as the Bulldogs coasted to the Frozen Faceoff semifinal.

One player that Pioneers fans need to keep their eye on in this game is Scott Perunovich.  The freshman defenseman is a scoring machine and has the ability to take over games.  With 10 goals and 24 assists this season, he’s a threat from anywhere on the ice.

The keys to this game will be faceoffs, special teams, and Denver’s Jarid Lukosevicous.  ‘Luko’ always seems to be the difference in these tight games with Duluth so expect a big game from him in another close one.

In other news, Henrik Borgstrom was awarded Player of the Year and Forward of the year from the NCHC while Tanner Jaillet was the Goalie of the Year.

Who to Watch

#7 – D – Scott Perunovich – 10G, 24A

#27 – F – Riley Tufte – 16G, 12A (DAL 1st, 2016)

#25 – F – Peter Krieger – 11G, 19A

#3 – D – Mikey Anderson – 4G, 16A (LAK 4th, 2017)

#4 – D – Dylan Samberg – 1G, 9A (WPG 2nd, 2017)

#32 – G – Hunter Shepard – 21-12-1, .927 SV%, 1.92 GAA

Twitter Follow – @UMDMensHockey

Where to Watch/Listen

Friday – 6:30pm MT, CBS Sports Network