Two-goal efforts from Henrik Borgström and Jarid Lukosevicius lifted the #3 Denver Pioneers over top-ranked and previously undefeated St. Cloud State at Magness Arena Friday night.
The Pioneers (5-2-2, 1-2 NCHC) snapped their brief losing skid after being swept at Western Michigan last weekend, avoiding what would have been their first three-game losing streak since 2015-16. For the Huskies (7-1, 2-1) the loss could very well mean the loss of their #1 ranking, just one week after claiming the top spot.
Borgström grabbed the lead for DU past the midway point of the first period with a highlight reel goal, toe-dragging in front of SCSU goaltender Jeff Smith and putting the puck top shelf.
In a post-game interview, Borgström said “I feel like I’m getting kinda lucky all the time. I’m getting good passes and it feels like everything I shoot goes in.” While the feed from Troy Terry was perfectly placed, there was certainly nothing lucky about the finishing move.
DU entered the second period leading 1-0 despite being outshot 13-8. After five minutes of scoreless hockey, the Huskies evened up the score on Mika Ilvonen’s first goal of the season. But Denver again took another lead into the intermission after Lukosevicius scored his second of the season on a one-timer from point blank range. The play was set up by Dylan Gambrell, who turned a neutral zone turnover into a 3-on-1, eventually putting the put right on Lukosevicius’ stick.
reason 10839272 why you crash the pic.twitter.com/eZoCZwQ8jR— Denver Hockey (@DU_Hockey) November 11, 2017
SCSU’s Mikey Eyssimont took a minor penalty for hooking in the final seconds of the second period that gave DU a power play chance to start the third. Freshman Ian Mitchell, who has proven himself a capable point man on the power play, fired a shot toward Smith, who was obscured by traffic in front. Lukosevicius got his stick on the puck and re-directed it past Smith to bring the score to 3-1 just 40 seconds into the period.
three steps:— Denver Hockey (@DU_Hockey) November 11, 2017
pull. snap. score. pic.twitter.com/T67HOoBor3
After being dominated by WMU in the third period and squandering late leads in both games last weekend, it was a sign of relief for DU faithful that the Pioneers were able to lock the game down in the final 20 minutes. Senior goaltender Tanner Jaillet made 13 of his 32 saves in the period to secure his fourth win of the season.
SCSU scored with 1:02 left to play on a 6-on-4 power play. It was the eighth power play goal surrendered by DU this season, and the team still sits at just 74.2 percent despite killing five penalties Friday night. But the goal was too little, too late for the Huskies as Borgström scored on an empty net for his Division I-best 11th goal of the year in just his eighth game. He’s now one point behind Terry, who sits at second in the nation with 17 (5 G, 12 A).
Denver will go for the sweep Saturday night. Even if the Pioneers come out with a split, Friday night’s game was a huge step in getting the team back on the right track after a discouraging start to NCHC play. Saturday’s game will start at 5:05 MT and can be seen on Altitude 2.