DENVER — Perhaps it was the presence of the school band, or just a desire to make up for a poor effort, but the No. 17 Denver Pioneers came out strong and defeated No. 2 St. Cloud State, 5-2, in front of an announced crowd of 5,268 at Magness Arena. Quentin Shore led the way with a goal and two assists, while Sam Brittain made 35 saves.
“It’s great,” said Denver coach Jim Montgomery of the win. “I challenged our players today. We needed to respond, and I challenged five individuals specifically, and they really responded.”
Just as they did Friday night, the Pioneers took an early lead, this time even faster, as Shore popped one past Charlie Lindgren from the right side of the slot just 52 seconds into the game.
“It was a big plan for our team to come out with a lot of energy, and we were lucky enough to get a couple goals, couple good shots by our ‘D’ Makowski, and we just kept it going throughout the game,” said Shore.
Tonight however, Denver did something it couldn’t on Friday by taking a two-goal lead. Three seconds into a power play, Shore won a draw back to David Makowski at the right point, and Makowski wristed a shot stick side past Lindgren at 9:12.
“You don’t want to fall down quick, and we did,” said St. Cloud coach Bob Motzko. “They got some unfortunate goals against us. I thought we hunkered back down after the first 10 minutes. I thought we played a pretty strong game with a lot going on. You dig yourself a hole, and you give up four goals on nine shots, you’re in a hole.”
Denver couldn’t enjoy the two-goal lead for long, as Jonny Brodzinski, the Huskies’ leading scorer, flew down the right side and got a perfect pass from Kalle Kossila, then buried the puck into the open right side of the net at 11:12.
The Pioneers came out strong again to start the second, and got a big goal from Gabe Levin to go back up by two at 1:57. Shore passed it to Levin, who got a rebound in the crease while cutting to his left and put it into the open net.
“I just thought that our puck pressure and our puck possession, I thought our forwards did the best job all year long of really making good decisions,” said Montgomery. “I thought the forwards carried us. This game and the game at UMass, they carried us, and it’s nice to see.”
Denver increased the lead to three when Trevor Moore rifled one top corner from the left faceoff circle at 5:26. That was all on the night for Lindgren, as Motzko replaced him with Ryan Faragher.
St. Cloud got one back with a pretty passing play just after a power play expired, as Kossila fed a cross ice pass to Jimmy Murray on the right side, and Murray one-timed it past Brittain at 12:21.
After killing off a couple of power-play chances in the third period, Denver put the game away on another faceoff goal. Daniel Doremus won it back to Joey LaLeggia, who beat Faragher with a wrist shot along the ice at 14:14.
“Last night was a little disappointing, so to come out tonight and get the win was huge for our team,” said Shore.
Overall on the night, Denver killed all five St. Cloud power plays.
Considering that Denver and St. Cloud came into this series as two of the top defensive teams in the nation, the number of goals in both games came as a surprise.
“I think their goalie would like a do-over of last night, and I think we’d like a do-over of tonight,” said Motzko. “Sometimes it’s just critical mistakes that cost you, and I have no idea what happened.”