There’s just something about Denver beating Minnesota Duluth in a one-goal game. Starting with the 2017 national championship game and into this year’s regular season series’, the teams have played five consecutive one-goal games — and Denver is 5-0.
Coming off a narrow 1-0 win Friday night, #4 Denver (16-6-6, 10-4-4-3 NCHC) held off the #9 Bulldogs (14-3-3, 8-10-0-0) in a higher-scoring 4-3 affair Saturday night at Magness Arena. Dylan Gambrell had the only multi-point night for the Pioneers with a goal and an assist, while Tanner Jaillet stopped 32 shots for his 15th win of the season.
One night after coming up empty on multiple power play chances, DU instead found a more unconventional spark to get on the board early, as Logan O’Connor scored shorthanded on a 2-on-1 opportunity. O’Connor streaked down the left side and beat UMD goaltender Hunter Shepard after breaking up a pass in the defensive zone.
The lead would prove to be short-lived, as UMD tied the score on a Scott Perunovich goal minutes later and took the lead with fewer than two minutes remaining in the period to take a 2-1 lead into the locker room. It marked the first time in four matchups that the Bulldogs managed more than one goal against Jaillet.
DU’s equalizer came from another unlikely source, freshman forward Ryan Barrow. Barrow had not scored since his first NCAA goal Dec. 30 against Air Force, but was able to beat Shepard with a wrister at 4:53 of the second period.
Denver fell back behind after Riley Tufte beat Jaillet 1-on-1 at 9:10.
The Pioneers continued to press in the UMD zone as they did for much of Friday’s contest. When DU finally struck, who else could it be but Jarid Lukosevicius to come through against UMD? After the Bulldogs failed to clear the puck out of a scrum in front of Shepard, Lukosevicius slid the puck through the crease while falling to his knees to send the game into the third period tied.
Denver used a 17-shot second period to take an overall 31-21 advantage in shots on goal into the final period.
The final frame went back and forth until DU snuck another ugly goal past Shepard, courtesy of Dylan Gambrell. Gambrell’s second point of the night bought him to 34 on the season, tied for 10th most nationally and second on the team.
UMD threw pressure at Jaillet but needed to pull Shepard just to bring the game to even strength after Nick Wolff was called for slashing at 18:36. Like the night before, the Bulldogs couldn’t tie the game up with time ticking down and the buzzer sounded on the Denver win.
Denver will enjoy a bye next weekend and will also bid farewell to Troy Terry, who heads to Pyeongchang, South Korea to represent the United States at the Olympic Games. DU sits three points ahead of St. Cloud State, who can tie the Pioneers with just one regulation win next weekend in their road series against Miami.