Denver's Bo Hanson (14) celebrates after scoring in Wednesday night's loss to Minnesota Duluth. Photo by Mark Kuhlmann
No. 3 Minnesota Duluth 2, No. 4 Denver 1
Two games, two third-period rallies, two come-from-behind wins.
Minnesota Duluth (2-0, 2-0) scored twice in the third period to first pull even and then pull ahead of Denver for a 2-1 win on Wednesday night in Omaha.
Both of the Bulldogs' goals came on the power play and scored 48 seconds apart by Jackson Cates and Kobe Roth. The duo also scored once each in Tuesday's win over Western Michigan.
"Once we got the power-play goals, I thought we had the momentum, and I thought our guys finished the game real well," Minnesota Duluth Head Coach Scott Sandelin said during Midco TV's postgame interview.
Sandelin was less pleased about his team's start in Wednesday's contest.
"When you play a team like (Denver), they're so good and not giving you time and space," Sandelin said. "You gotta know what you're doing with the puck, and I thought we weren't supporting the puck very well. I thought our forwards were lazy (early on), to be honest. I thought our D held onto pucks too long because guys weren't in position, and in turn (Denver) was able to adjust and disrupt plays."
No. 4 Denver (0-1, 0-1) drew first blood, getting a goal from Bo Hanson early in the second period to take a 1-0 lead. The Pioneers also outshot the Bulldogs 18-1 in the second period, a testament to just how often Denver controlled play through the first two frames.
The third period was far more evenly matched, as the Bulldogs flung 11 shots on the Pioneer goal, including the two by Cates and Roth that found the back of the net.
A penalty taken with 1:03 remaining in regulation offered Denver the chance to pull goaltender Magnus Chrona for a six-on-four advantage, but Minnesota Duluth's special teams proved clutch once again. In particular, freshman defenseman Wyatt Kaiser stood out in the game's waning moments, blocking a shot in prime scoring territory and then clearing the zone a few seconds later. Kaiser's play also stood out on the power play, which has tallied four of the team's seven goals through two games.
"That first unit's got four guys that did it last year. The only difference is that Scott Perunovich was on top," Sandelin said, referring to last year's Hobey Baker-winning Bulldog defender. "They talk a lot; they talk about different plays. They use a lot of that chemistry that they've had from last year together to make some things that don't look like plays, be plays."
Sandelin also praised goaltender Ryan Fanti, who made 28 saves on 29 shots in his second career start.
"Our goaltender kept us within striking distance. Our power play came through again just like it did last night, so it was a big win for us."
North Dakota outshot Miami 39-19 in Wednesday evening's 2-0 win. Photo by Mark Kuhlmann
A scoreless first period in Wednesday's opening game may betray the appearance of a close tilt, but North Dakota allowed just four shots in the opening frame and only 19 overall in a 2-0 win over the Redhawks.
NCHC First Star of the game Matt Kiersted scored a power-play goal at the 13:03 mark of the second period to put the Fighting Hawks up 1-0, as the nation's top-ranked team pumped 11 more shots on goal in the second for a two-period total of 29.
Freshman dynamo Riese Gaber tacked on an insurance goal 67 seconds into the third stanza to give North Dakota (1-0, 1-0) its eventually victorious 2-0 lead. Shane Pinto assisted on both goals for the Fighting Hawks to earn Second Star of the Game honors, and goaltender Adam Scheel was named the Third Star after posting 19 saves to earn the shutout.
Miami's Ben Kraws played admirably in the loss, turning aside 37 of 39 shots. The Redhawks (0-1, 0-1) went 0-4 on the power play.