On the strength of a three-goal performance by freshman forward Liam Finlay (Kelowna, B.C.), the No. 1 DU Pioneers captured their ninth consecutive victory on Saturday night, downing the No. 18 SCSU Huskies by a score of 7-2 in front of 6,227 fans on Senior Night at Magness Arena. Denver now leads Minnesota-Duluth by four points in the NCHC Standings. A win in their next game – Friday night at Omaha – will give the Pioneers their first-ever Penrose Cup.
“Friday night is great mental training for us on how to win a championship,” Denver head coach Jim Montgomery said following Saturday’s lopsided home victory. “We’ve got all week to think about the result but we know that’s not what we need to focus on – we’ve got to stay in the moment and focus on the process; that’s what’s gotten us to this point and that’s what’s going to take us to the next level as we gear up to take a run at a National Title in the coming weeks.”
For the second night in a row, the Pioneers took an early 1-0 lead on Saturday as Finlay buried a nice feed from senior winger Evan Janssen (Green Bay, Wis.) midway through the first period. Senior center Matt Marcinew (Calgary, Alta.) doubled the hosts’ advantage late in the stanza, redirecting a Tariq Hammond (Calgary, Alta.) wrist shot to the back of SCSU’s net.
Florida Panthers prospect Henrik Borgström (Helsinki, Finland) put DU up 3-0 at the 4:38 mark of the middle frame on a sensational individual effort, deftly stickhandling around a Huskies defender and beating SCSU goalie Jeff Smith on a picture-perfect wrist shot to make his team-leading 17th goal of 2016-17 of the highlight-reel variety. Los Angeles Kings prospect Mikey Eyssimont tallied a power play marker midway through the second period to cut Denver’s lead to two, but the hosts then reeled off three unanswered goals – two from Finlay and one from Emil Romig (Vienna, Austria) – to take a 6-1 lead into the second intermission.
Period No. 3 saw more offensive production with Colin Staub (Colorado Springs, Colo.) scoring for Denver midway through the stanza and Blake Winiecki finding the back of the net for St. Cloud State in the 56th minute of play. That would be as close as the visitors would get however as the Crimson & Gold ultimately took the decision by a five-goal margin.
Denver (24-6-4, 16-3-2-2 NCHC) will wrap up its regular season schedule next weekend in Omaha against the Mavericks prior to returning home to face a TBD opponent at Magness Arena in Round 1 of the NCHC Playoffs.
Featured Video Credit: Denver Pioneers, YouTube