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Denver Pioneers blank Minnesota Duluth to remain in first place

Jaillet, Borgstrom help Pioneers squeak by Bulldogs at home

NCAA HOCKEY: APR 08 Frozen Four Final - Minnesota-Duluth v Denver Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

For the third time in three matchups this season, the #4 Denver Pioneers edged #9 Minnesota Duluth in a low-scoring affair behind the stellar play of senior goaltender Tanner Jaillet. Jaillet made 25 saves in his sixth shutout of the season, tied for most in the country.

The 1-0 win keeps Denver (15-6-6, 9-4-4-3 NCHC) in first place in the conference with 34 points, while UMD (14-12-3, 8-9-0-0) remains tied for third place with Western Michigan (L at Miami) and North Dakota (idle).

The contest itself started slow and scoring chances were hard to come by. Denver had two unsuccessful power play chances in the first frame and killed off one of their own after freshman forward Jake Durflinger was called for tripping.

The period ended with DU holding a 10-6 advantage in shots on goal, several of which came in the final five minutes of the period for the Pioneers.

That late period offensive pressure carried momentum over into the second, along with strong defensive end play, allowing DU to spend long stretches of time in the UMD zone. The Bulldogs were forced to take another pair of penalties trying to slow down the Pioneer attack. But the UMD penalty kill and netminder Hunter Shepard held stout in the face of the extended zone time.

DU led again in shots during the period, 8-1.

Denver’s high-powered scoring offense would not be denied for much longer, as Henrik Borgstrom snapped the puck at Shepard from a tight angle and rang it off the goalie’s mask and into the cage at 2:35 of the final period.

The goal was Borgstrom’s 17th of the season and his 37 points tie him with Ohio State’s Tyler Laczynski for fifth in the country.

After killing off another DU penalty shortly after the goal, UMD seemed to wake up and started to manage some offensive pressure. After facing just one the previous period, the Bulldogs challenged Jaillet with 17 shots in the final frame. Shepard was pulled in the final minutes for the extra attacker but after averaging nearly five goals per game in the second half of conference play, UMD remained scoreless as the final buzzer sounded.

Three of Jaillet’s six shutouts have come after the new year and after a perfect weekend against Nebraska-Omaha two weeks ago, he has yet to allow a goal at home in 2018.

Denver will play for the regular season sweep of UMD Saturday night. Puck drop will be at 7:05 and the contest will be broadcasted on 104.3 The Fan.