Denver, CO – The #1 ranked Denver Pioneers exploded for four second period goals and first-year forward Liam Finlay had a career game with a hat trick as the Pioneers buried the Huskies at Magness Arena in Denver, CO. After a disappointing overtime loss on Friday, the Huskies where schooled by college hockey’s top-ranked team getting swept and falling further in the NCHC standings. With Omaha picking up a road win at North Dakota, the Huskies slipped to 6th place one point behind both the Mavericks and Fighting Hawks for the battle for fourth place. The win by Denver was their ninth straight and added to their lead over the UMD Bulldogs in the standings and the race for the Penrose Cup.
In a rather sloppy first period of play, the Huskies were contained by the Pioneers and found themselves down by two goals at the end of period. Liam Finlay began his big offensive night with his first goal of the game at 9:33 beating Jeff Smith with a tap-in goal at the doorstep. DU added to their lead at 18:13 on a play that had to be reviewed twice before being awarded the goal. Tariq Hammond tossed the puck towards the SCSU net from the sidewall and it deflected off the upper body of Matt Marcinew for his 9th goal of the season. The Huskies did outshoot the Pioneers 9 to 8 in period one but were stunted on two man-advantage opportunities.
The Pioneers increased their lead to 3-0 on a highlight reel goal by Florida Panthers first-rounder Henrik Borgstrom at 4:38 of period two. Borgstrom undressed SCSU defenseman Will Borgen with some slick stick work and then beat SCSU Smith top shelf blocker side with a wrist shot. The Huskies finally responded with a goal of their own at 9:20 with a power play goal by Colorado native Mikey Eyssimont (Jackson | Nevalainen). Eyssimont beat Jaillet with a sharp wrist shot from a bad angle to narrow Denver’s lead to 3-1. This was Eyssimont’s 14th goal of the season. The goal seemed to give the Huskies some spark and despite beginning to carry the play Denver added another goal from Finlay for a 4-1 lead. A shot by Dylan Gambrell rebounded off the right post and Finlay was positioned perfectly to bury the puck for his second goal of the game at 12:41. A mere 23 seconds later the Pioneers struck again with a goal by Emil Romig for his sixth of the year. Romig charged into the SCSU zone and beat Zach Driscoll with a wrist shot from the right dot for a 5-1 Denver advantage. The Pioneers added yet another as Finlay capped off his hat trick with a goal at 18:17. This time a shot by Adam Plant bounced off the back wall and once again Finlay was perfectly stationed to place the puck past an out of position Zach Driscoll for a 6-1 lead. Surprisingly, despite the explosion of four goals, the Pioneers only outshot the Huskies 13 to 9 in the period.
With the contest clearly out of reach both teams changed goaltenders. Zach Driscoll came in to relieve Jeff Smith late in period two and Evan Cowley replaced Denver starter Tanner Jaillet at the start of the third period. Both were victimized in the third period with Driscoll getting beat on a breakaway by Colin Staub at 10:51 and Cowley getting beat on a wrist shot by Blake Winiecki ( J Poehling | J Ahcan) at 15:48 for the final goal of the contest. This was Winiecki’s 12th goal of the season. The teams both traded 11 shots on goal in the final period.
Denver outshot the Huskies 32 to 29 for the game with Tanner Jaillet stopping 17 of 18 shots to earn his 22nd win of the season. Backup Evan Cowley faced 11 shots allowing one goal. SCSU’s Jeff Smith stopped 13 of 17 shots on goal and Zach Driscoll allowed three goals on 15 shots. The Huskies were 1 for 3 on the power play while Denver was shut out on their two attempts.
The loss dropped the Huskies record to under .500 at 15-16-1. Surprisingly, their Pairwise ranking improved from 15th to 14th despite the loss. The Huskies close out the regular season next weekend hosting the Colorado College Tigers.
Stars of the Game: Liam Finlay (DU) Dylan Gambrell (DU) Henrik Borgstrom (DU)