DENVER — Three Pioneers — freshman Paul Stastny, sophomore Gabe Gauthier, and sophomore Ryan Helgason — each tallied two goals and sophomore goaltender Glenn Fisher stopped 12 shots as second-ranked Denver overpowered Michigan Tech for a 7-1 win in the first game of their best-of-3 WCHA playoff series Friday night in Magness Arena.
Helgason got the Pioneers on the board first midway through the first period when he stole the puck in the Husky end and made a pretty move to beat Michigan Tech goaltender Cam Ellsworth. Skating in open ice to Ellsworth’s left, Helgason faked a wrister and skated back across the crease and put in a backhanded shot into an empty net for a 1-0 Denver lead.
Michigan Tech evened the score just under five minutes later, when Chris Conner scored his 14th goal of the season off a pretty pass from the left board from Taggart Desmet.
But Denver answered when freshman Ryan Dingle took a pass from Jussi Halme on a MTU power play and wristed a shot from the left circle that beat Ellsworth to his stick side on a shorthanded rush to give Denver a 2-1 advantage entering the third period, a lead Denver would not relinquish.
The rest of the game was all Denver. Gauthier scored both his goals in the second period and Stastny recorded two in the third as the Pioneers limited Michigan Tech to just five shots — including just one in the third period — over the final 40 minutes. Denver held a 35-12 shots advantage in the game, a season-low for Michigan Tech.
“We had a very strong night tonight,” head coach George Gwozdecky said. “We were a little anxious at the beginning but settled down really well and had a strong night on the penalty kill.”
The Pioneers held Michigan Tech’s nationally-ranked power play to an 0-for-5 performance Friday night. Meanwhile, despite its huge offensive output, the Pioneers were 0-for-7 on the power play.
Denver will go for the sweep in the second game of the best-of-3 series Saturday night at 7:07 in Magness Arena.