The #5 Denver Pioneers followed up Friday night’s lopsided win over #15 Omaha with an equally dominant 4-0 triumph over the Mavericks Saturday night at Magness Arena. Omaha entered the series with the fourth-best scoring offense in the country (3.77 goals/game) but was blanked for the second straight game by DU senior Tanner Jaillet, who turned away all 30 shots he was faced with and earned his fourth shutout of the season.
UNO (12-11-1, 5-9-0 NCHC) narrowly outshot the Pioneers (14-6-4, 8-4-2-1 NCHC) by a 30-29 margin.
The first 20 minutes started at a much slower pace and featured fewer scoring chances than last night’s up-and-down affair. But in the final two minutes, one of DU’s six shots on goal was put home by freshman forward Jaako Heikkinen on a 3-on-2 rush. It was the seventh of the season for Jeikkinen, who was previously named the January NCHC freshman of the month for December.
The Mavericks outshot DU 11-6 in the first frame. Again reminiscent of Friday’s contest, the score remained at 1-0 for a good while after a Pioneer goal at the end of the first.
However, DU had significantly stepped up their offensive pressure on Omaha goaltender Evan Weninger. Totaling 16 shots in the period, it was only a matter of time before Denver struck, courtesy of Henrik Borgstrom at 17:22. With an assist on an empty net goal in the final minutes, Borgstrom sits at 35 points on the season, second in the country.
Jaillet made 10 more saves to reach 21 entering the final frame.
Omaha’s brutal weekend culminated by surrendering yet another goal to Denver’s power play, which tallied three goals the night before. Playing in his 100th career NCAA games appeared to earn Troy Terry a bit of good fortune, as he banked the puck in off a defender’s stick after leaving the penalty box to give DU a 5-on-3 advantage. After being held to one goal in his previous 10 games, a two-goal weekend could help Terry find his offensive firepower again.
With a comfortable lead, DU tightened up defensively, allowing just nine third period shots. Colin Staub brought the weekend margin up to 9-0 with an empty net goal with just over two minutes remaining.
DU’s first weekend sweep since the beginning of December will vault the Pioneers into first place in the NCHC for at least a week. The Pioneers passed Western Michigan and St. Cloud State, who was playing outside of the conference this weekend and has 12 NCHC games played to DU’s 14.