NCHC: Borgström's four points lead Pioneers past North Dakota

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DENVER, Colo. — One night after they lost a three-goal lead, the No. 1 Denver Pioneers rode three power-play goals to a 4-1 win over No. 3 North Dakota and a split of their NCHC series. Henrik Borgström had two goals and two assists to lead the Pioneers.

“We were kind of joking about it that the lead thing isn’t working for us so we might as well try and get behind and come from there,” said Denver assistant captain Troy Terry, who had a goal and two assists. “We know what we’re capable of. I thought our leadership group and everyone stayed really even keel.”

North Dakota got on the board first when Colin Adams drove in on a partial three-on-one and got a pass over to Matt Kiersted trailing down the left side of the slot. Kiersted beat Tanner Jaillet with a quick snap shot before the goalie could slide back over.

“Today I thought we had a pretty good start, and penalties kind of got us trouble at the end of the first and throughout the rest of the game,” said North Dakota captain Austin Poganski. “They’re a really skilled team and took advantage of the their power-play opportunities.”

After owning the momentum advantage for the next several minutes of play however, North Dakota’s Cole Smith took a costly five-minute major penalty for an open ice hit along the left boards on Adam Plant when Plant didn’t have the puck. Plant was injured on the play and left the ice. Smith was ejected from the game. Denver coach Jim Montgomery revealed after the game that Plant had a concussion.

“It was tough to see Plant go down like that, and we made it a goal for ourselves to make them pay for that, because there’s no need for that stuff,” said Terry.

On the ensuing power play, Borgström tied it with a laser of a snap shot from the right circle that beat Patrick Thome low at 15:45.

“Especially on power play when you have Borgström and Terry moving around, it’s pretty tough,” said Poganski. “You have to make sure your sticks are in the lanes because they are going to hit the seam pass, and that’s what they did tonight.”

After looking somewhat shaky at times, Jaillet seemed to settle down early in the second, and stoned Adams alone in front in the slot with huge stop. Denver’s best chance of the scoreless second period came from Jake Durflinger, who one-timed the puck at an open net from the slot, but his shot bounced off a North Dakota player.

“I thought Tanner gave us a huge boost all game long,” said Denver coach Jim Montgomery. “I just thought he was aggressive, he was challenging everything; he was like a vacuum. It was good, because I challenged him this morning when he and I met. We needed a big performance from him and he delivered.”

“I think they simplified their game,” said North Dakota coach Brad Berry. “I think last night we played with a lot of energy, we got on their D and they turned pucks over and we took the game over. I think tonight they simplified. They went down to five defensemen. They were rimming pucks, chipping pucks, and doing whatever it took to get the puck out of the zone.”

Denver broke through early in the third period on a great play by Troy Terry, who got the puck at the top of the left circle and skated through the slot and down low to Thome’s left, then fed Colin Staub in the slot. Staub wristed it into the open net at 1:05.

“Henrik skated it through the middle, and when Henrik skates it through the middle everyone is going to go to him,” said Terry. “He moved it out to me on the side and I saw a lane up across. As I came around I didn’t really have a shot, so I was looking for someone to pass to and I saw Staub pop out in the slot and he made a great play on it.”

North Dakota had appeared to tie it at 5:10 when Adams evaded Denver captain Tariq Hammond and carried it deep, sending a pass through the crease to Jordan Kawaguchi, who beat Jaillet into the open net. However, a long video review ended up overturning the call, as Adams was called for goaltender interference because his follow through of his stick during his pass hit Jaillet in the chest.

“First of all, I want to see it here; I haven’t seen it yet,” said Berry. “I’m kind of caught up right now and real disappointed in how the whole night shaked out.”

Shortly after that, Denver went on a power play and made it 3-1 when Terry got the puck in the right faceoff dot off pass from Ian Mitchell and beat Thome with a beautiful snap shot that went just inside the left post.

“I think we were just committed to coming back and being on the right side of the puck,” said Montgomery. “I thought our defensemen did a better job of moving pucks quicker, not over-handling pucks, and I thought our support along walls was way better than last night; that was the biggest difference.”

Denver’s power play then struck again at 11:15 when Terry got the puck almost exactly from where he’d scored from earlier and sent a pass to Borgström at the opposite faceoff dot, and Borgström took his time wristing a shot into the open net.

“I picked it up; I wanted to shoot it, but I figured just with the way the play was moving there was probably someone open on the back side, so I picked it up and turned and I saw Henrik, and if Henrik is open you pass to him,” said Terry.

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NCHC wrap-up

No. 2 St. Cloud State 5, Colorado College 1

Easton Brodzinski’s power-play goal 2:45 into the third period broke open a tight game as St. Cloud State scored four times in the third period en route to a 5-1 victory over Colorado College and a series sweep. Jack Ahcan made the initial play, making a spin move at the right point to elude a CC defender and skating the top of the right circle, then passing down low to Nick Poehling, who got the puck through the crease to Brodzinski at the back door for the easy goal. Just 33 seconds later, Luke Jaycox beat Alex Leclerc with a blast from the middle of the blue line. Mason Bergh gave CC some life with a power-play goal at 6:20, but Patrick Newell responded for the Huskies, again on a power play, poking in a rebound at the crease during a mad scramble. St. Cloud scored three power-play goals on the night.

Miami 3, No. 14 Minnesota Duluth 2

Ryan Larkin made 27 saves, and Josh Melnick scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal at 2:52 of the third period when he and Gordie Green broke in on a partial two-on-one. Green fed Melnick the puck as the latter streaked down the left side of the slot and then beat Hunter Shepherd with a quick snap shot from the left faceoff circle. Minnesota Duluth took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission on a goal from Nick Wolff, but Ryan Siroky got Miami even at 13:23 of the second with a blast from the left point after Minnesota Duluth had failed to clear the zone twice. Both teams were held scoreless on the power play. Miami earned a split of the weekend series.

No. 15 Western Michigan 5, Omaha 2

Western Michigan rolled to a 5-2 win and sweep of Omaha, continuing to be a tough team to beat at Lawson Arena. Wade Allison scored two goals 13 seconds apart at 13:05 and 13:18 of the first period, and Omaha never quite recovered. Allison scored first on a partial breakaway, beating Kris Oldham with a quick snap shot from the right faceoff dot that beat Oldham short side. On the ensuing draw, Western got the puck deep and then Allison scored a rebound from right in the crease. David Pope scored on a power play early in the second to bring Omaha back within one, but Jade McMullen restored the two-goal lead just 1:45 after that when he beat an Omaha player to a loose puck down low in the slot and backhanded it in. Hugh McGing had two assists in the game, and Ben Blacker made 27 saves.