For the second straight night, the #1 Denver Pioneers played to a tie after 65 minutes of hockey against Colorado College. But the Pioneers earned a crucial extra point in the NCHC standings thanks to a goal from Liam Finlay in 3-on-3 overtime.
Finlay’s goal is perhaps most important for the Pioneers (9-3-4, 5-3-2-1 NCHC) to take a positive away from a weekend that saw DU earn just three of six possible points and lose a 14-game winning streak against in-state rival CC (7-7-2, 3-5-2-1) after losing a lead in the final 10 seconds of the game Friday.
Saturday’s contest was played at the Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs, where the home Tigers again took the lead in the final two minutes of the first period on a goal from Trevor Gooch.
Denver held a considerable shot advantage in the period, but CC’s Alex Leclerc made 12 of his 38 saves over the first 20 minutes to keep the Pioneers off the board.
The second period continued to put Saturday’s rematch in contrast to the high-scoring contest Friday, as neither team could find the back of the net. Tanner Jaillet kept Denver within striking distance with nine saves in the period, including a point-blank chance on CC’s only power play opportunity in the second frame.
Either DU coach Jim Montgomery had some choice words for his team at the second intermission or the Pioneer offense simply couldn’t be held off for too much longer, as Finlay scored just 17 seconds into the third. After being held without a point the night before Henrik Borgström set Finlay up with a primary assist on Leclerc’s backdoor.
Denver made a frantic push to try and win the game in regulation, peppering Leclerc with 17 total shots over the final period. Both teams registered two shots on goal in the 5-on-5 overtime, which was again insufficient to break the tie.
With the game finished as a tie for NCAA purposes, an extra point in the NCHC standings was at stake in the 3-on-3 overtime, where Finlay sent the Pioneers back to Denver on a positive note with a flashy spin-move and score.
did someone call for a spin-o-rama?— Denver Hockey (@DU_Hockey) December 10, 2017
that's worth another look pic.twitter.com/ZNepe0nsN8
Jaillet rebounded from an uncharacteristic game Friday night to make 22 saves in net.
The second point leaves Denver tied with Western Michigan for third place in the conference at 18 points, although the Mustangs swept the Pioneers in their weekend series in Kalamazoo. After conference leader St. Cloud State picked up a shootout win and a regulation win against North Dakota to move to 12-2-1 on the season, it stands to reason that the #2 Huskies could take over DU’s top spot in the national rankings, even if temporary.
Denver will break from NCHC play to host a struggling Dartmouth team in a series at Magness Arena Friday and Saturday.