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Denver Rebounds for Series Split

2016 NCAA Division I Men's Hockey Championships - Semifinals Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

A night after a heart-breaking overtime loss, Denver rebounded for a 3-1 victory over St. Cloud State to earn a hard-fought split on the road on Saturday evening.

Despite a strong start by the Pioneers, St. Cloud State got on the board first with a goal by freshman Jake Wahlin, the only tally of the first frame.

But the Pioneers would finally break through early in the second period with a pair of goals by Dylan Gambrell and Jarod Lukosevicius. Michael Davies would add an insurance goal on the power play in the third period, and an excellent defensive effort would carry the Pioneers through the third period.

One night after being pulled, Tanner Jaillet stopped 37 shots to earn the victory. Jeff Smith made 35 stops for St. Cloud State in a losing effort.

With the win, Denver moves to 16-6-4 on the season, while St. Cloud State falls to 11-12-1 on the year.

Notes and Thoughts

-Every point counts in a tough conference like the NCHC, so it’s always expected that the team that lost on Friday is going to come out with a little extra effort, and that was the case here tonight, as Denver came out with a really strong start and controlled the early parts of the game.

St. Cloud State came out of the first period with a 1-0 lead, but the ice felt tilted in Denver’s favor, and it was only a matter of time before the Pioneers broke through. Both Denver goals weren’t necessarily pretty plays, but were the type of goals you pick up when you spend a lot of time in the other team’s zone.

St. Cloud State raised their effort level after that, but Denver is such a smart, disciplined team, and they don’t give anything away for cheap. It’s tough to come from behind against them.

-A big reason for that first period lead was the play of St. Cloud State goalie Jeff Smith, who came up with big save after big save in that first period. Goaltending has been an issue for the Huskies this season, but that was probably their strongest point tonight.

-Denver freshman Liam Finlay had 1-1-2 in 18 games coming into this weekend, but had a goal last night and played a good game. He was rewarded on Saturday with a spot on Denver’s top line with Henrik Borgstrom and Jarod Lukosevicius and he took advantage of it. The small forward was a spark plug with his effort all night, using his quickness to create multiple high-quality chances, and eventually being rewarded with a power play assist in the third period.

-St. Cloud State has some guys that can really fire the puck from the blue line, but what makes them so dangerous is their ability to draw defenses out towards the point, opening up lanes for opportunities on the back door. Denver was willing to give up those shots from the point tonight in order to protect the front of their net and take away those backdoor passing lanes. It worked tonight, as St. Cloud State fired a ton of pucks from the perimeter in the second half of the game, but were never able to get anything through.

Fancy Stats

Shots on goal: SCSU: 10-13- DU: 16-11-

Even strength shot attempts: SCSU: 15-21- DU: 26-18-

Prime scoring area attempts: SCSU: 4-3- DU: 9-6-

What do the numbers tell us?

Once again, the Huskies may have had a lot of attempts, but Denver’s attempts were coming from much better position to score.

Final Scoring

First Period

10:10 Jake Wahlin from Ryan Papa 1-0 St. Cloud State

Wahlin picked up the puck just below the goal line to the left of Jaillet and was able to jam the puck betwee Jaillet’s legs for the goal.

Second Period

8:13 Dylan Gambrell from Evan Janssen and Matt Marcinew 1-1 tie

Janssen chipped the puck behind the net off a St. Cloud State turnover in their own zone. Gambrell got the puck behind the net and tried to send a quick pass to the front of the net, that Jimmy Schuldt deflected into his own net as he tried to clear the puck away.

8:39 Jarod Lukosevicius unassisted 2-1 Denver

St. Cloud State was trying to bring the puck out of the corner in their own zone, but a defenseman mishandled a bouncing puck and Lukosevicius was standing right in front of the crease to bang home the loose puck.

Third Period

4:43 Michael Davies from Adam Plant and Liam Finlay (power play) 3-1 Denver

Davies had the puck at the top of the left circle and fired a high wrist shot that beat Smith to the glove side.