Top-ranked Denver looks good with quick strikes
No. 1 Denver traveled to South Bend, Indiana, for a titanic clash against No. 4 Notre Dame, the team the Pioneers routed in the Frozen Four last season. Though the Pioneers were playing their first games of the year, and at times looked rusty, they finished the weekend undefeated, notching a 2-2 tie Friday and a 4-2 win on Saturday. What most emerged from those two games is how many ways Denver can beat a team, and that Denver can strike back quickly. On Friday, Denver got all its offense from Finnish sophomore sensation Henrik Borgström, who scored both goals. Just 15 seconds after Notre Dame took a 1-0 lead in game one, Borgström scored to tie it, and then he gave Denver a lead on a power-play goal at 14:38 of the third, but Andrew Oglevie scored at 16:11 to tie it. Denver fired 48 shots on Notre Dame netminder Dylan St. Cyr. Saturday, with Borgström out with an undisclosed illness, Denver jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first thanks to goals from Troy Terry and Jake Durflinger. Denver dominated most of the game, but Notre Dame worked its way back into it in the third period. Cam Morrison scored at 14:44, and then Jordan Gross tied it on a power-play strike at 15:08, though neither team realized it until two minutes later. It appeared Denver had killed the power play and taken the momentum back, but the referees went back and looked at video, and replay showed that Gross had fired a slap shot from the left point that actually went through the net behind Jaillet. That might have hurt a lesser team’s confidence, but instead, Liam Finlay scored what turned into the game winner at 15:32, just after the faceoff after the video replay goal, striking from the top of the slot off a great pass from Dylan Gambrell, who then scored an empty-netter at 18:40 to seal the win. Goalie Tanner Jaillet looked good in both games, making 31 saves in the second one and 27 in the first.
North Dakota finally gets its offense untracked
After struggling to a 1-1 tie and 3-2 OT win in its opening series against Alaska Anchorage, North Dakota returned home to the friendly confines of Ralph Engelstad Arena, but the offense still struggled, getting two goals in a 2-1 win, with the game-winner coming on a power play at 16:11 of the third. Saturday was a different story as North Dakota finally untracked its offense in a 6-1 win. North Dakota struck for three goals in the first, with Colton Poolman assisting on two, got one in the second on a power play, and two more in the third. Shane Gersich, last year’s leading scorer, had a goal and an assist, and Joel Janatuinen had two assists. North Dakota got two power-play goals, including what turned out to be the game-winner from Gersich at 14:51 of the first as he picked up a rebound from the slot of a Poolman shot from the blue line. Goalie Cam Johnson made 27 saves in the win. North Dakota is currently ranked fourth in team defense, giving up only 1.25 goals per game.
St. Cloud showcases its offense
Coach Bob Motzko was probably fuming behind the bench halfway through the first period of Friday’s game against Alaska. The Huskies gave up three goals, falling into a 3-0 hole. Kylar Hope scored at 1:08, Ryker Leer at 3:29, and Troy Van Tetering at 8:29. Goalie Jeff Smith, who Motzko had said needed to show his second-half form from last year, and seemed to in a 4-0 shutout win in the opening game, was torched for all three, but Motzko stuck with Smith, who finished with 22 saves, and St. Cloud started chipping away. Nick Poehling scored at 14:18 of the first to give the Huskies some life, and Jimmy Schuldt scored at 14:09 of the second to make it a one-goal game going into the third, and then St. Cloud explored, firing 15 shots on net and scoring four goals. Nick Poehling tied it at 5:09, and Schuldt scored a four-on-three power-play goal that turned into the game-winner at 8:44. Robby Jackson scored to make it 5;3, and then Jack Poehling scored an empty-netter at 19:59. Jackson finished the night with a goal and two assists, Schuldt with two goals and an assist, and Ryan Poehling had two assists to go with brother Nick’s two goals. Saturday, Nick Poehling scored in OT off a great feed from brother Jack in a 5-4 win. St. Cloud grabbed a 1-0 lead on a strike from Schuldt at 5:07 of the first on a power play, but a goal by Ross Heidt at 18:06 of the second put Alaska up 2-1 heading into a roller-coaster third period that saw multiple lead changes. Jackson tied it just 1:12 into the third, but after the teams traded goals, Heidt scored again at 16:56 of the third off a terrible defensive zone turnover to put Alaska up 4-3, but Ryan Poehling scored at 18:11 from down low on the left side to set the stage for Nick’s heroics. It’s early in the season, but St. Cloud State has the second-ranked offense in the country, averaging five goals per game.