After sweeping St. Cloud State and splitting their series with North Dakota, the Pioneers will be facing Minnesota Duluth for the first time this season since defeating the Bulldogs for the national championship this past season.

While the Pioneers have been able to remain the top-ranked team according to the USCHO rankings on a weekly basis, any time these two teams faced off against each last season — including in the national championship — were extremely close games.

“Right now, we as a team are just focused on one game at a time, and trying not to pay attention to the rankings,” coach Jim Montgomery said.

One of the best teams in the NCHC last season, the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs are off to a rocky start to the season at 7-6-2 overall, and 2-4-0 in NCHC conference games.

Possible Difference Makers

In every series, there are a few players who truly make a difference for each team. This rematch of the 2017 Frozen Four national championship is no different, as both these teams have plenty of talent on their sides that have the capability to change a game.

For the Denver Pioneers, the script will be about the same with regard to how skilled this squad is. Still, Henrik Borgstrom and Troy Terry stand out.

The two NHL draft picks are proving once again why they are two of the best players in the NCAA, as both players have over 20 points in only 12 games played. Borgstrom was named the NCHC player of the month for his 14 goals in the month of November.

“That is just the exact type of play that we expect from them [Borgstrom and Terry], and they have really been finding their rhythm in November. They are a big reason as to why we are where we are right now,” Montgomery explained.

As for the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs, they have been able to find consistent scoring from a hometown kid in his freshman season with the Bulldogs. Scott Perunovich leads the Bulldogs with 12 points in 15 games played, and was named the NCHC Rookie of the Month of November, .

Along with Perunovich, the Bulldogs hope that freshman forward Nick Swaney continues his scoring ways at home; leads the Bulldogs with eight goals scored on their ice.

What to expect this weekend

If last season, and the national championships were any indication, don’t expect any blow-outs this weekend. Last season, the Pioneers and Bulldogs consistently engaged in battles in which the difference was only one goal.

Fortunately for the Pioneers, they’re coming off of a bye week, while Minnesota Duluth played a game on November 25th against Minnesota State-Mankato. Look for the Pioneers to start the game by throwing everything on net, as they look to get themselves back into the swing of things after the long break.