After closing out the regular season with the Miami Redhawks, the No. 5/4 Denver Pioneers are set to host their in-state arch rival, Colorado College, in a best-of-three series in the NCHC quarterfinals.
Denver (18-8-8 / 12-6-6-4) finished the regular season in second place in the conference, while the Tigers (14-15-5 / 8-12-4-3) were second-to-last. But this series won’t be as simple as it might appear just by looking at the standings.
This is a dream matchup for the Tigers, who would love nothing more than to upset the superior Pioneers in the conference tournament.
The Pioneers were not completely successful in the regular-season matchup with the Tigers this season. The defending NCAA champs posted a record of 1-1-2 over their longtime rivals in 2017-18.
Regular Season Wrap Up
12/8/ 17 DU vs CC; 4-4 tie (OT)
12/9/17 DU @ CC; 1-1 tie (OT)
2/16/18 DU @ CC; DU won 5-1
2/17/18 DU vs CC; CC won 1-0
The Pioneers held onto the Gold Pan with the dominant 5-1 victory over the Tigers in February.
Do the Tigers have a chance to upset the Pioneers?
Yes. Absolutely they do.
As with every team when it comes to college playoffs, there is always a chance that the opposing team could come out and shock everyone. This is something that the Tigers are aware of — and they will use this as a motivator against the Pioneers.
In order to steal the series, the Tigers will have to try to shut down the Pioneers’ offensive weapons — Troy Terry, Henrik Borgstrom, and Dylan Gambrell, in particular. If the Tigers can limit the Pioneers’ offensive opportunities and take advantage of their own, they may have a chance of upsetting the Pioneers.
What do the Pioneers have to do to advance?
Although it may sound cliché, the Pioneers can’t take this Tigers team for granted.
In the Pioneers’ final series of the regular season, against the Miami Redhawks, Denver let off the gas after jumping up to an early lead. They defeated Miami 6-3 in the first game of the weekend series, but skated to a 3-3 tie in the second game despite running out to a 3-0 lead within the game’s first five minutes. It wasn’t the first time this season the Pioneers have allowed an inferior opponent to scratch its way back into a game. They can’t allow the Tigers to do the same.
Players to watch
Nick Halloran – Colorado College Tigers – Freshmen
Leading the Tigers this season with 44 points, Halloran has been one of the main key components to help the Tigers hockey program become a force again in the collegiate hockey world.
The Tigers will need him to make that next step to outduel the highly talented Pioneers roster.
Dylan Gambrell – DU Pioneers – Junior
With 41 points on the season, Gambrell is keeping pace with Pioneer teammates and Hobey Baker Award nominees Henrik Borgström (44) and Troy Terry (37).
Gambrell will be a key factor for the Pioneers, as they will look to utilize their high profile offense against the Tigers. Expect to see Gambrell out in key situations for faceoffs to be able to create offensive time — especially if overtime is required in this series.
Puck drop in Game 1 of the series is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday, March 9. Game 2 will be played at the same time on Saturday, March 10. Game 3 is 6 p.m. Sunday, March 11 (if necessary). All games will be played at DU’s Magness Arena.