DULUTH, Minn. – Shawn Ostrow, Chris Knowlton and Nolan Zajac all scored goals in a span of 91 seconds with less seven minutes remaining in regulation to lift No. 10 Denver to a 4-3 win and a series sweep of Minnesota Duluth on Saturday night at AMSOIL Arena.
Ostrow scored his second goal of the game and 10th of the season following a turnover deep in the Duluth zone at 13:40 as he beat the Bulldogs goalie Matt McNeely high on the stick side to start the flurry and get the Pioneers to within 3-2.
Knowlton followed 36 seconds later with a tally of his own following assists by Daniel Doremus and Zajac at 14:16. The goal marked Knowlton’s team-leading 12th this season and his first since Dec. 29 vs. Boston University and knotted the score at 3-3.
Zajac sealed the comeback and capped the furious rally with a power-play goal at 15:11 to give the Pioneers their first lead at 4-3 and seal the series sweep.
The turning point of the game for Denver came just prior to the scoring outburst as the Pioneers completely shifted momentum by killing a total of 5:30 in penalties. For the game, Denver received 31 penalty minutes, while Minnesota Duluth was tagged with 14.
The victory improved Denver’s record to 15-8-4 overall and 10-6-4 in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. The win also assured the Pioneers of their first conference sweep since Nov. 16-17 vs. Colorado College and its first road league sweep since Nov. 9-10 at Minnesota State. Minnesota Duluth slipped to 10-13-3 with the loss and 8-9-3 in league action.
The Pioneers now sit in a tie for third place with Minnesota and North Dakota in the WCHA standings, each with 24 points.
Minnesota Duluth got on the scoreboard first, taking only 65 seconds as Caleb Herbert snuck a wrist shot past Denver goaltender Juho Olkinuora just inside the left circle.
The Bulldogs kept the pressure on in the Denver zone as it totaled 15 shots in the frame, but Olkinuora was up to the task for the Pioneers as he made 14 saves in the opening 20 minutes.
Austin Farley put away another quick strike for the Bulldogs at the beginning of the second period, which they opened with 1:42 remaining on a power play, as he scored his 11th goal of the season after Tony Cameranesi slid a cross-ice pass and found Farley just outside the crease for a one-timer, to make the score 2-0.
Denver trimmed the margin to 2-1 on a goal by Ostrow, his ninth of the season and first since Jan. 12, following assists by Ty Loney and Josiah Didier at the 8:13 mark of the second. Ostrow beat McNeely with a shot from just right of the crease.
Minnesota Duluth reclaimed the two-goal advantage at 16:19 of the second period after it capitalized on a power play for the second time. Cameranesi buried a slapper from the front of the left circle following a nifty setup by Mike Seidel to make the margin 3-1.
Denver won despite being outshot 33-24. The Pioneers finished 1-for-3 on power-play opportunities, while Duluth capitalized on 2 of 7 chances.
Olkinuora finished with 30 saves while earning his second consecutive win and ninth of the season. McNeely turned away 20 shots in the loss.
Denver won the the overall faceoff battle 47-29. Ostrow led the Pioneers on the draws, capturing 19 of 26.
Associate head coach Steve Miller led the Pioneers while Denver head coach George Gwozdecky was away tending to the passing of his father.
Denver opened the series with a 3-0 victory against Duluth. Olkinuora had 26 saves as he registered his second shutout of the season and the fourth of his career. Larkin Jacobson, Joey LaLeggia and Zajac scored for the Pioneers.