The #4 Denver Pioneers couldn’t overcome a stellar 44-save performance from Miami goaltender Ryan Larkin, losing to 4-3 to open the second half of NCHC play on the road Friday night. The Pioneers (11-6-4, 5-4-2-1 NCHC) continue their shaky play from last month and are now just 2-3-2 in their last seven games dating back to Dec. 8.
After falling behind 2-0, Denver was unable to claw its way back despite productive nights from key players like Henrik Borgstrom (G) and Dylan Gambrell (2G). Larkin frustrated the Pioneers all night, earning the win despite remaining busy all night as Denver outshot Miami (9-8-2, 4-4-1-0) 47-19.
After peppering Larkin with 16 first period shots, it wasn’t until late in the second period before Denver finally put the puck behind him to cut the deficit in half. Gambrell, playing in his 100th college game, redirected a point pass from Blake Hillman into the back of the next with under 5:30 to go.
Mitchell → Hillman → Gambrell— Denver Hockey (@DU_Hockey) January 6, 2018
Blackhawks → Blackhawks → Sharks pic.twitter.com/ieD4tBPENS
Denver entered the final period with a 31-11 shot advantage but still trailing by one goal.
The Pioneers spoiled their own comeback effort by giving chances to the RedHawks’ excellent power play, which is ranked top-ten nationally.
After Jake Durflinger was sent off for for interference at 3:19, Casey Gilling scored just over a minute into the man advantage to stretch the lead to 3-1. As the halfway point of the period neared, Borgstrom responded by capitalizing on a defensive lapse that led to a clear path to the net, scoring his 14th goal of the season.
But just 33 seconds after Borgstrom’s tally, DU was shorthanded again thanks to a roughing call against Blake Hillman. And just four seconds later off the faceoff, Louie Belpedio put the eventual game-winner past Tanner Jaillet, who finished with just 15 saves on 19 shots.
With Jaillet pulled for the extra attacker, Gambrell notched his second of the night on a pretty finish. Troy Terry was credited with his team-leading 18th assist while the secondary assist went to Hillman, completing his three-point night.
Toe-drag, dangle, snipe!— The NCHC (@TheNCHC) January 6, 2018
Dylan Gambrell buries his 2nd of the night to make it a one-goal game between @DU_Hockey and @MiamiOH_Hockey with less than 3 minutes to play. #NCHCHockey #DU1Nation
Watch on #NCHCtv pic.twitter.com/yEstHq39Nl
With Jaillet still on the bench, the Pioneers had a few chances in the fleeting seconds but couldn’t come up with the tying goal.
The loss keeps Denver tied with Western Michigan for third place in the league, although the Broncos have played just 10 conference game to DU’s 12. The Pioneers can move into sole possession of third with a point in Saturdays contest, in which they will hope to avoid their second road conference sweep of the season. The puck will drop at 5:05 pm MT.