Pioneers wrap regular season, set sights on NCHC playoffs versus Colorado College

The University of Denver men’s hockey team on Saturday looked as though it was headed to a second convincing win over the University of Miami, but wrapped regular season play with a lost point in overtime after skating to a 3-3 tie in regulation.

The Pioneers on Friday doubled up the RedHawks 6-3.

The Pioneers (18-8-8, 12-6-6-4) tied the RedHawks (11-18-5, 6-14-4-2), 3-3, with the RedHawks earning the extra point in the conference standings on Saturday at Magness Arena.

Denver saw its three-goal deficit lead erased in the second period and ceded a goal to Phil Knies in NCHC overtime.

Denver jumped to a 3-0 lead by 4:19 of the first period with goals from Jarid Lukosevicius, Ryan Barrow and Adam Plant. The Pioneers benefited from a power play only 30 seconds into the game as Dylan Gambrell delivered a low-to-high pass to Lukosevicius, who shoveled a backhander over the shoulder of RedHawks goalie Ryan Larkin.

Barrow extended Denver’s lead less than one (1) minute later after intercepting a pass in the defensive zone and skating the puck the length of the ice for a breakaway goal. Shortly after the Pioneers took a 2-0 lead, Adam Plant’s wrist shot from the left-wing boards beat Larkin to establish a three-goal advantage.

The Pioneers’ lead began to evaporate at 16:45 of the first period when Gordie Green made it 3-1. The RedHawks entered the first intermission trailing by two (2) goals, but closed the gap in the middle frame. Karch Bachman scored for Miami at 2:47 and 11:37 of the second period to make it a 3-3 game. The RedHawks’ third goal of the night came on the man advantage. Denver appeared to had regained the lead with 2:39 left in the second period, but Tariq Hammond’s apparent goal was disallowed after video review determined a kicking motion.

The teams were scoreless through the third period and the first overtime.

Tanner Jaillet finished with 11 saves in the first period. Dayton Rasmussen replaced Jaillet in the second period and made 20 stops.

The Pioneers finished 1/3 on the power play and 2/3 on the penalty kill.

On Friday, two (2) power-play goals in the first period and Troy Terry’s four (4) assists fueled the Pioneers’ victory against the RedHawks.

“There are a lot of pieces of our game where we want it to be,” Denver coach Jim Montgomery said. “Being hard offensively is something we have to strive for if we hope to have success ultimately.”

Denver opened the scoring at 2:13 of the first period when Dylan Gambrell took a feed from Terry and slipped a backhander from the slot past the left pad of Ryan Larkin. At 14:14 of the frame, Gambrell helped the Pioneers extend their lead on the man-advantage with a shot that glanced off the shin pad of Jarid Lukosevicius on its way into the net. Denver held a 2-0 lead at the first intermission.

The Pioneers used their momentum from the first period to tally early in the second when Ryan Barrow worked the puck behind the net for Kohen Olischefski, who centered a pass for Rudy Junda. Junda was denied on his initial attempt, but scored on the follow-up to make it 3-0. Miami cut the lead to 3-1 at 3:39 of the period, but Denver would re-establish its three-goal advantage midway through the frame when Logan O’Connor’s pass through the goal crease hit the skate of Henrik Borgström and slid into the net.

Miami scored at 14:25 of the third period to make it a 4-2 game, then added another less than three (3) minutes later to cut the lead to one (1) goal. The 4-3 score stood for less than two (2) minutes as Denver struck again at 17:37 of the third period with Adam Plant’s slap shot from the point. Colin Staub iced the game with an empty netter.

Denver finished 2/5 on the power play and 1/1 on the penalty kill. Jaillet made 20 saves.

Denver will host Colorado College for the first round of the NCHC playoffs from March 9-11 at Magness Arena.