The Denver Pioneers walked into Conte Forum on Saturday night with the top rank in the nation. They looked to walk out with a Boston sweep. The Pioneers edged #6 Boston University and faced #19 Boston College for the weekend’s end. The Eagles skated with Denver for the early stages of the game but did not have enough to stay with the Pioneers the whole way. The second half of the game became a demonstration of just how dominant the Denver Pioneers are.
Denver outshot BC 9-7 in a chippy and slow first period. Joseph Woll and Tanner Jaillet traded strong saves for the first half of the period. When BC started gaining some offensive momentum though, Denver’s special teams snatched it away. Graham McPhee was called for a slashing penalty at the 11:33 mark. 24 seconds later, Dylan Gambrell put home a shot from the slot on Troy Terry’s smooth passing. BC had a chance on the power play when Jarid Lukosevicius was called for slashing, but Jaillet stuffed their chances with three saves to close out the period.
The second period was more of the same. Denver opened the period with another power play goal. Henrik Borkstrom put home a rebound and made it 2-0 after a Casey Fitzgerald tripping whistle. The Eagles stayed with Denver though. BC outshot the Pioneers 10-7 and made Jaillet sweat with five shots on three different power plays. None of them went in. Jaillet also made a potential save of the year, sliding from post to post and robbing Logan Hutsko with his glove. Denver made the most of their chances. Tyson McLellan won a faceoff to Blake Hillman, and the junior defenseman scored his first goal of the season on a laser blast. Denver took a 3-0 lead into the second intermission.
The third period was a demonstration of Denver’s dominance. The Pioneers outshot the Eagles 12-9 and scored three goals. BC did get on the scoreboard with a power play goal from Christopher Brown only 1:45 into the period. After that, Denver got goals from Henrik Borgstrom, Tyson McLellan, and Blake Hillman. Borgstrom’s goal was on a power play following a Michael Karrow hooking whistle. The Finnish sophomore fired a wrist shot from above the right circle. McLellan and Hillman scored their goals on even strength. McLellan scored on a rush and Hillman’s second goal was on a slapshot from the blue line. Denver completed the sweep of Boston with a 6-1 victory.
Eagles Head Coach Jerry York was complimentary of Montgomery and the Pioneers, but remained positive about his team.
“We skated with them through the first period. But we didn’t match them for the whole way. We’re going to improve the more we play this season.”
BC has underachieved this season, falling to 1-5-1 and losing four games in a row. The Eagles play the Merrimack College Warriors next weekend in a home and home series. First game is at home on Friday night. Puck drops at 7 pm.
Denver moves to 4-0-2 with three consecutive wins. Jim Montgomery was happy with his team after what he described as the best performance of the year.
“The checking was the best we’ve had it this season.” The 5th year head coach was not pleased with the BU game, but remained focused on the ultimate goal of improving for a championship run. “We did not handle BU’s pressure well. It was a learning opportunity and we applied those lessons well tonight. This is the most talented team I’ve ever had here and we want a championship. I’m trying to create a culture of putting our foot on the gas and never stop getting better, like what Shawn Walsh built in Maine.”
Denver continues their title defense next weekend in Kalamazoo, MI, with the first NCHC series of the year. The Pioneers play the Broncos of Western Michigan at Lawson Arena on Friday and Saturday. Puck drops at 5PM CT both nights.