ST. PAUL, Minn. – Sophomore Jason Zucker scored 2:18 into overtime to give Denver a 3-2 win against Michigan Tech in the WCHA quarterfinals Thursday afternoon at the Xcel Energy Center. With the win, the Pioneers advance to the WCHA semifinals against Minnesota Duluth Friday afternoon.
Ty Loney and Luke Salazar added goals for the Pioneers (24-12-4) and freshman Juho Olkinuora earned his first playoff win with 27 saves.
Blake Pietila and Ryan Furne scored for Michigan Tech (16-19-4) and Josh Robinson made 41 saves in the loss.
“We’d like to change the game plan and win a game in the third period,” DU head coach George Gwozdecky said of DU’s recent late-game heroics. “It certainly was indicative of how our season has been this year, it has not been as fluid and consistent as perhaps we thought it would be back in September. But, through the challenges we have been able to play a little bit more consistently and find some success.”
Zucker fired a shot past Robinson at 2:18 of the extra frame after Joey LaLeggia found Zucker open on the back door. Nick Shore also added an assist on the game-winner.
Loney gave the Pioneers an early 1-0 lead with a goal off a Drew Shore feed from behind the Michigan Tech net at 3:50 of the opening stanza.
Michigan Tech’s Pietila evened the game at 1-1 at 10:45 of the first as he beat Olkinuora on a breakaway.
Furne gave the Huskies’ a 2-1 lead just 18 seconds into the final frame, beating Olkinuora stick side from the right circle.
Salazar continued his hot play by tying the game at 2-2 at 15:28 of the third. Drew Shore dropped a pass to Loney in the slot and Loney found Salazar streaking down the far side.
Loney finished with a goal and an assist and Drew Shore had two assists in the win. Defenseman Josiah Didier finished a team-best +3 and had five blocked shots.
Denver outshot Michigan Tech 44-29 and went 0-for-1 on the power play. The Huskies were 0-for-3 on the man-advantage.