The #1/1 University of Denver Pioneers opened their home slate with a raising of the 2016-17 National Championship banner in front of an elated crowd at Magness Arena. But Lake Superior State goalie Nick Kossoff stole the show in Friday night’s 3-3 tie, stopping 63 shots to hold off a DU comeback.
Though the tie will bring DU’s official record to 1-0-2, the Pioneers scored in the final minute of an unofficial three-on-three second overtime period on a goal from Jarid Lukosevicius. Including the four shots taken in that period, the Pioneers put 70 shots on goal, 66 of which were turned away by Kossoff.
After surrendering a power play goal in the first period, Denver found itself in a 2-0 hole when Max Humitz, a 2016-17 WCHA All-Rookie team selection, beat DU senior Tanner Jaillet three minutes into the second period.
DU never trailed by two in its opening series against Notre Dame, but once again it was Henrik Borgström who got the Pioneers going. His third goal in two games, after sitting out last Saturday, cut the deficit in half about midway through the second period. After two full periods, Kossoff had already made 35 saves.
that's a high-percentage shot from a high-percentage shooter, folks pic.twitter.com/91AV9XiwPM— Denver Hockey (@DU_Hockey) October 21, 2017
The final ten minutes went back and forth, first with DU tying the game on a breakaway goal by Dylan Gambrell off a cross-ice pass from Borgström, who is on an early 2 points per game pace in 2017-18.
But Jaillet’s shaky night in net continued, as the Lakers’ Jake Hand took the lead back after the Pioneers failed to control a loose puck behind the net. Jaillet made 14 saves on 17 shots, an uncharacteristic .825 save percentage.
With under four minutes remaining in the game, Lukosevicius came in on goal from the right side, collected his own rebound, wrapped around the net and got the puck to Liam Finlay in the slot, who again showed his ability to come up big late in games by beating a out-of-position Kossoff.
The first overtime period was game official, but neither team was able to score, solidifying DU’s second tie of the season. Between the third period and the five minute official overtime, Kossoff saw 30 shots in 25 minutes of hockey.
The teams played an unofficial 3-on-3 overtime to mirror NCHC rules. With time ticking under a minute, Blake Hillman streaked down the ice, put the puck on Kossof and Lukosevicius put home the rebound. Liam Finlay, the third man on the ice for DU, was right on net as well.
While the result might be disappointing for a DU team that is clearly deeper and more talented, it’s not often that you run into a goalie who performs like Kossoff. Even though a few chances ought to have been finished but weren’t, if DU dominates puck possession like they did Friday, the team will have much success. It wouldn’t be too surprising if Kosoff got the night off Saturday after his marathon performance, meaning the Pioneers would get a chance at freshman Mareks Mitens. Denver also continued its slow start on special teams, going 0-for-4 on the power play and failing to kill its only penalty of the night.
Saturday’s game will begin at 7:05 MT and will be broadcast on Altitude 2. For full highlights of Friday’s game, check out the official game recap from DU Athletics.