The No. 2 DU Pioneers skated into first place in the NCHC on Friday night, capturing a thrilling 4-3 victory over No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth at Magness Arena to surpass the Bulldogs in the conference standings. Denver also extended its unbeaten streak to 15 games (12-0-3), the fourth-best mark in program history.
“This was a great college hockey game and a big win for us,” Denver head coach Jim Montgomery said following Friday’s hard-fought home victory. “That was an intense battle against a very talented Minnesota-Duluth team and we showed a tremendous amount of resolve and determination in pulling this one out. Different players continue to step up for us on this streak we’re on and tonight was no different. Our upperclassmen deserve a lot of credit for keeping the younger guys focused on the task at hand and it’s definitely been a strong group effort that’s gotten us to the top of the conference standings. Hopefully we can keep that spot with another good performance tomorrow night.”
After Alex Iafollo scored the lone goal of the opening period to give Minnesota-Duluth a 1-0 lead, the Pioneers produced the equalizer 7:03 into the middle frame when freshman forward Kevin Conley (Wasau, Wisconsin) buried a nice feed from linemate Colin Staub (Colorado Springs, Colorado) to register the first marker of his NCAA career. First-year center Tyson McLellan (San Jose, California) also picked up an assist on the play.
Denver then scored two goals in a span of 0:22 as Logan O’Connor (Calgary, Alta.) and Troy Terry (Denver, Colorado) both found the back of Minnesota-Duluth’s net in quick succession to give the hosts a 3-1 lead. Bulldog Joey Anderson scored for UMD a moment later to send Friday’s game into its second intermission with the Pioneers in possession of a one-goal lead.
Sophomore winger Jarid Lukosevicius (Squamish, B.C.) netted an insurance marker for Denver early in the third period, one-timing home a cross-ice feed from Terry to register his sixth tally of the season. A late goal by UMD’s Sammy Spurrell made things interesting, but DU was ultimately able to hold on take the decision by a 4-3 final.
Denver (12-2-3, 6-0-3-2 NCHC) and Minnesota-Duluth (10-3-2, 7-2-0-0 NCHC) will meet again at Magness Arena on Saturday night (puck drop – 7pm).