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University of Denver outlasts #4/#6 Notre Dame for first win of 2017-18

Without a top forward, Pioneers survive wild third period

NCAA Hockey: Frozen Four-Denver vs Minnesota-Duluth David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Picking up the first win of the season against a top-5 team is good, but doing it by overcoming adversity the way DU did last night is better.

DU head coach Jim Montgomery announced pregame that Henrik Borgström, the star of Friday night’s tie, was out for the second game of the series. He was listed on the depth chart as sick.

Unlike Friday, DU (1-0-1) got off to a quick start. Troy Terry got things started with his first goal of the season, tapping in a rebound that Notre Dame (2-1-1) goalie Cale Morris couldn’t control. Eight minutes later, with time winding down in the first period, freshman Jake Durflinger scored his first NCAA goal off a feed from Logan O’Connor.

Denver continued its control of puck possession and appeared to be on its way to a victory as the score held 2-0 into the second half of the final period.

But the Fighting Irish found a late burst, starting with the first goal of the season at 14:44 from Avalanche prospect Cam Morrison, who finished the weekend with two points. With the Irish on a powerplay just 24 seconds later, Jordan Gross fired a shot from the point that appeared to hit the boards behind the net. Play resumed and the clock continued to wind down until a stoppage with just over a minute left.

The officials gathered to review the shot from Gross, by then three minutes previous. A slow-motion replay showed that the puck beat DU goalie Tanner Jaillet over the shoulder, passed through the net and hit the boards. After DU thought they had a 1-goal lead with less than 90 seconds to play, the ND goal was put on the board and the clock was reset to 4:52.

Such a sequence might have been deflating without the veteran presence of the Pioneers, who wasted no time taking back the lead just 24 seconds later.

Liam Finlay’s first goal of the season stole back the momentum that had gone the Irish’s way after the late review. Officially, the sequence saw three goals in 48 seconds of gameplay.

Notre Dame mounted a frantic effort to re-tie the score, eventually totaling 14 third-period shots, but the Pioneers iced the game with an empty-net goal from Dylan Gambrell with 1:20 to play.

The circumstances of the game undoubtedly make the win a little bit sweeter for DU. Being without Borgström and prevailing over a strange third period shows that this team is both deep with talent and unfazed by adversity. If nothing else, it ought to keep DU at #1 for another week.

Terry and Gambrell both finished with a goal and an assist each. Jaillet made 31 saves in his first win of the season.

DU will return home for its first two games at Magness Arena, facing Lake Superior State Friday and Saturday.