DENVER — Rookie goaltender Glenn Fisher had an assist on a shorthanded goal and recorded 36 saves, many of the spectacular variety, to lead Denver (12-6-3) to a thrilling 3-2 win over Niagara (9-8-1) in the first round of the Denver Cup holiday tournament.
“Glenn played terrifically in goal tonight, and it was great to see him play well,” said Denver head coach George Gwozdecky of Fisher, who earned his second career victory.
Niagara outshot Denver, 38-35, and had many chances from point-blank range that were stopped by Fisher.
“We got it going in the second half of the game,” said Niagara head coach Dave Burkholder. “We had some great chances to tie the score, but she wouldn’t go in.”
The second period proved decisive. Despite outshooting Denver 14-13 in the frame, Niagara found itself on the wrong end of a 3-1 score by period’s end.
The Pioneers netted two goals in 37 seconds in the early stages of the period to open up a 2-0 advantage. Ryan Helgason opened the scoring at 2:46 with a shot from low in the right slot that beat Niagara goaltender Allen Barton, who finished with 32 saves.
Fisher had a rare goalie assist on the next Pioneer goal, feeding Greg Keith, who lit the lamp with a shorthanded goal at 3:23. Denver made it 3-0 at 13:26 with a power play goal from Jon Foster. The Purple Eagles got on the scoreboard at 16:40 with Dave Hominuk’s first goal of the season.
Niagara dominated much of the third period, and Purple Eagle senior Chris Welch scored the frame’s lone goal. It was not enough, however, thanks to several spectacular saves from Fisher, including a couple close range shots from Barret Ehgoetz with just under six minutes left in the game. Just under one minute later, he blocked another tough Ehgoetz shot which helped kill a Niagara power play.
“Our special teams were the difference,” Burkholder said. “They scored a shorthanded goal and a power play goal, and we couldn’t capitalize on our opportunities.”
Niagara was unable to convert any of its eight power-play attempts.
The first period was played about as evenly as they come, with neither team cracking the scoreboard and the Pioneers outshooting the Purple Eagles by a slim 10-9 margin.
Neither team converted its power-play opportunities, with Niagara going 0 for 3 and Denver scoreless in its two man advantage situations.
The Pioneers will play Nebraska-Omaha in the championship game Sunday night at 7:05 MT while the Purple Eagles take on the Yale Bulldogs in the consolation game at 4:05.