No. 1 Denver Pioneers punch their ticket to 2017 Frozen Four

Credit: No. 1 Denver Pioneers punch their ticket 2017 Frozen Four

The No. 1 DU Pioneers punched their ticket to the 2017 Frozen Four on Sunday night at U.S. Bank Arena, defeating the No. 11 Penn State Nittany Lions by a score of 6-3 in the Championship Game of the NCAA Tournament’s Midwest Regional. Denver joins Notre Dame, Minnesota Duluth and Harvard in this year’s Frozen Four (Apr. 6-8 in Chicago). The Pioneers will face the Fighting Irish in the National Semifinals on Thursday, Apr. 6 at 7:30 p.m. MDT.

Sunday’s win was also the 100th of DU head coach Jim Montgomery’s career, making him the fourth coach in program history to reach the Century Club and the first to do so before the end of his fourth season.

Denver took an early 1-0 lead on Sunday when sophomore forward Jarid Lukosevicius (Squamish, B.C.) buried a nifty backhand shot in the fourth minute of play to register his 12thgoal of his season. A long-range wrist shot off the stick of junior blueliner Adam Plant (Penticton, B.C.) then doubled the Penrose Cup champs’ lead shortly thereafter. The Nittany Lions pulled back to within one of Denver at the 15:00 mark of the opening stanza courtesy of a shorthanded goal by Nikita Pavlychev and then tied things up at two apiece early in the second period.

Anaheim Ducks prospect Troy Terry (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) put Denver back on top at the 6:30 mark of the middle frame, burying a nice feed from linemate Henrik Borgström(Helsinki, Finland) on the fly into PSU territory. The Pioneers struck twice more in the second period as Lukosevicius and Terry again found the back of the net for the Crimson & Gold to put their team up 5-2 as Sunday’s contest reached its 40-minute mark.

Penn State scored midway through the third period to cut Denver’s lead to two, but that would be as close as the Nittany Lions would get as Terry added an empty-netter to complete a hat trick and lock up Midwest Regional Most Valuable Player honors. The Pioneers ultimately took the decision by a 6-3 final to secure the 15th Frozen Four berth in program history.

Featured Image Credit: Will Butcher, Twitter