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University of Denver Pioneers complete weekend sweep of #16 Minnesota-Duluth

Durflinger nets game-winner to keep Pioneers hot

2017 NCAA Div I Men's Ice Hockey Championships Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The #1 Denver Pioneers picked up a second consecutive one-goal win Saturday night, completing a sweep of #16 Minnesota Duluth with a 2-1 road win.

The Pioneers (9-3-2, 5-3-0 NCHC) came out on top despite being outshot 28-15. Freshman forward Jake Durflinger’s fourth goal of the season with just over four minutes to play sealed the win, which keeps the Pioneers tied with Western Michigan for third place in the league.

The first period of the Saturday’s game was the third scoreless frame of the weekend between the two teams. Denver goaltender Tanner Jaillet remained clean after his Friday night shutout, making six of his 27 saves in a relatively calm period.

Jarid Lukosevicius could not help but remain a pain in the side of Bulldogs fans, breaking the scoreless tie as the final minute of the second period ticked away. Colin Staub made the play happen by beating a UMD (7-8-2, 2-6-0) defenseman on a forecheck and feeding the puck to Logan O’Connor, who passed it off to Lukosevicius for the score.

The period ended 1-0, marking the fifth consecutive period of shutout hockey from Denver’s defense and Jaillet, who saw 11 shots in the frame.

But the Bulldogs finally broke through 8:32 into the final period, tying the score on Blake Young’s second goal of the season, which beat Jaillet five-hole.

The Pioneers only managed four total shots on goal in the final period, two of which came on the play that resulted in Durflinger’s decisive goal. Fellow first-year Kohen Olischefski drove in on UMD goaltender Hunter Shephard and set up a rebound chance for Durflinger, who did not waste the opportunity. DU captain Tariq Hammond was credited with the secondary assist, his first point of the season after returning recently from ankle surgery.

Jaillet and the Pioneers were able to hold the lead despite being outshot for the third period, just as they were in the first two. In total over the weekend sweep, Jaillet turned away 55 of 56 shots and earned himself two wins.

With the sweep, Denver stays tight with a strong upper tier of teams in the NCHC, rounded out by North Dakota and St. Cloud State. The wins also ought to keep DU at #1 in the national polls for at least another week.

The team will continue conference play next weekend with a home-and-home series against in-state rival Colorado College. The teams will square off at Magness Arena Friday night and rematch again Saturday in Colorado Springs.