Pioneers win NCHC Frozen Faceoff, set sights on NCAA Tournament

The University of Denver Pioneers (22-9-8, 12-6-6-4) defeated the St. Cloud State Huskies (25-8-6, 16-4-4-1), 4-1, and clinched the 2018 National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) Frozen Faceoff championship on Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center.

Goals from three (3) freshmen in the first two (2) periods helped Denver become the first two-time champion in the five-year history of the Frozen Faceoff.

“I’m really proud of our group,” Head Coach Jim Montgomery said. “I’m really proud of our group. I thought we were relentless. After we scored the first goal we really started to play Denver hockey. We were very persistent, very hard offensively and defensively and we were able to push our lead because of it.”

The Pioneers’ victory marked their third against the Huskies this season and fourth consecutive win. Denver has allowed only three (3) goals in the last three (3) games.

Kohen Olischefski opened the scoring at 4:24 of the first period courtesy of a fortunate bounce off Jack Poehling, who was standing in front of the net when Olischefski swatted a rebound from his own shot. St. Cloud State responded with an opportunity three (3) minutes later when Nick Poehling sent a pass from the point to Judd Peterson cutting toward the net, but Liam Finlay’s hook on Peterson interrupted the play. Denver extended its lead with five (5) seconds remaining in the first period as Logan O’Connor put a shot off the pad of David Hrenak and created a rebound for Durflinger. Durflinger’s goal made it 2-0 for the Pioneers at the first intermission.

Early in the second period, Ryan Barrow received a pass from Finlay, took flight through the neutral zone and roofed a backhander over the glove of David Hrenak. Jeff Smith replaced Hrenak following the goal. The Pioneers held a 3-0 advantage through 40 minutes.

The Huskies took a trio of penalties in the third period and were unable to generate much offensively until 15:54 of the period when Ryan Poehling’s follow-up on Kevin Fitzgerald’s shot made it a 3-1 game. Denver established its three-goal lead at 17:06 of the third period when Dylan Gambrell sealed the victory with a slap shot from the right circle.

O’Connor, Tanner Jaillet, Henrik Borgström and Ian Mitchell were named to the All-Tournament team. Jaillet was named the tournament’s most outstanding player.

The Pioneers finished 0/4 on the power play and 3/3 on the penalty kill. Jaillet made 28 saves.

Denver’s position in the 2018 NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Championship Tournament will be determined during the selection show on Sunday, March 18 at 10 a.m. MT.

Featured Image Credit: DU Hockey Twitter

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