DENVER – With 28:00 penalty minutes to defend, the No. 7 Denver Pioneers hockey team (13-4-3, NCHC 3-3-2-1) was forced to take an unorthodox route to its 4-3 win against No. 9 UMass on Saturday at Magness Arena.
Denver went 7/8 on the penalty kill and scored three second-period goals to complete its non-conference sweep. The Pioneers' second-period production had foundation in their defense to start the period. With seven of Denver's 14 penalties occurring during the middle frame, the Pioneers were forced to kill four consecutive penalties to start the period and stave off 1:14 of a five-on-three before going on the offensive and building a lead they never relinquished.
"It was a super emotional period for players and coaches alike," Richard and Kitzia Goodman Head Coach David Carle said. "Our guys thrived in it, they executed. Obviously the five-on-three kill was huge, it gave our guys a lot of life and a lot of momentum and we got big goals from Pettersen, Brink and Guttman…You need your best players to get the puck in the back of the net and they did that in the second."
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The Minutemen opened the scoring at 4:15 of the first period with Bobby Trivigno driving wide on Slava Demin before slipping a shot underneath Magnus Chrona's pad. UMass extended its lead on the man advantage later in the period. Working on an abbreviated power play, Zac Jones slipped a pass into the right circle for John Leonard who elected to fake the obvious shot, bait Chrona and slip the puck around him for a 2-0 lead.
The Pioneers' power play put them on the board late in the first period. After video review determined Matt Murray kept Tyson McLellan's rebound out of the net, McLellan won the ensuring faceoff leading to Liam Finlay's shot from the right circle that made it 2-1.
Penalty trouble complicated Denver's pursuit of the game-tying goal, but the Pioneers tied the game at 14:32 and eventually took a 4-3 lead out of a period with 22 combined penalty minutes. Pettersen scored first with a one-timer on the power play, then Brink beat Murray with a one-timer at even strength and Guttman gave Denver a 4-2 lead with a rebound from Kohen Olischefski's shot. The momentum of the penalty-laden period favored the Pioneers until Jack Suter's shot from the slot at 19:56 made it a one-goal game through 40 minutes.
The Minutemen continued their pressure in the third, but couldn't solve Chrona who made 39 saves, including 13 on the penalty kill and nine in the third period.
Cole Guttman extended his point and goal streak to five games with six goals and two assists. Emilio Pettersen had one goal and one assist, extending his point streak to five games with two goals and five assists with Denver going 2/4 on the power play.
Coming up, Denver Hockey presented by Centura Health hosts St. Cloud State on Jan. 10-11 at Magness Arena.