DENVER — The forward line of juniors Greg Barber and Kevin Doell and freshman Jon Foster combined for eight points to lead Denver to a convincing 7-4 victory over Michigan Tech on Saturday night at Magness Arena.
The Pioneers completed the four-game season series sweep over the Huskies and remained atop the Western Collegiate Hockey Association standings with 30 points.
The first period opened with a flurry as both teams registered a goal on their first shot of the game.
Michigan Tech (5-14-2, 1-10-2 WCHA) took their first lead of the weekend with a goal by senior forward Jaron Doetzel at one minute two seconds after the puck was dropped, but the lead was short-lived as Denver netted the equalizer 18 seconds later. Freshman forward Kevin Ulanski fed a streaking Max Bull at the blue line, who rushed the net and fired a slapshot that beat Husky netminder Cam Ellsworth low on the stick side.
The Pioneers’ lit the lamp for the second time in the opening period when Doell finished a textbook two-on-one breakaway to register his 10th goal of the season and extend his scoring streak to four games.
But the Huskies’ fearless attack was rewarded late in the period with a goal by Colin Murphy that knotted the contest at 2-2 as both teams entered the first recess. Michigan Tech is the first team to register two goals against Denver in the first period since Colorado College took a 2-1 lead over the Pioneers on Nov. 3, 2001, and the first team this season to tally more than one goal in the opening stanza against sophomore netminder Adam Berkhoel.
The furious pace that was established in the first frame continued into the second as both teams came out flying. Michigan Tech took its second lead of the game one minute, 56 seconds into the second period when forward Jon Pittis beat Berkhoel low to give MTU a 3-2 advantage.
The lead, which lasted a little over a minute, was extinguished when Barber tied the game with his ninth goal of the year. Barber, just as Doell had done the period before, engineered an odd-man rush into the zone and wristed a shot over Ellsworth. Doell netted his second marker of the night with 10 seconds remaining in the second period to give the Pioneers a 4-3 lead at the second intermission.
Barber recorded his career-high third point of the game with an assist on the goal.
Denver junior forward J.J. Hartmann, making just his sixth appearance of the season, opened the third period scoring with his first goal of the season less than two minutes into the frame that extended Denver’s lead to 5-3.
Husky forward Paul Cabana answered shortly thereafter with his sixth tally of the season to keep MTU within one goal, 5-4, but it was not enough to overcome the Pioneers’ stifling defense.
Denver’s special teams responded with a power-play goal by freshman Jeff Drummond that put the game out of reach. Sophomore forward Connor James extended his career-best point streak to five games with an assist on Drummond’s goal. Drummond chipped the puck by Ellsworth with 13 seconds left to play to provide the final score of 7-4.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our guys,” said Denver head coach George Gwozdecky. “We faced a real tough test tonight, but the guys did an outstanding job of staying true to what we needed to do and it paid off. Our forwards, I thought, really took the game over in the third period and controlled the possession. Michigan Tech created some good opportunities early in the game, but this team battled through adversity and earned a well-deserved win.”