The rivalry between North Dakota and Denver has produced some fantastic games in recent years, and their first meeting in the NCHC’s Omaha Pod, despite not having any fans in the building, proved to be no exception. Neither team could hold a lead in the third period, but North Dakota ultimately prevailed with a 4-3 victory in the 3-on-3 overtime on a goal by Jordan Kawaguchi.
Here’s the final scoring in the game.
11:05 Carter Savoie from Bobby Brink and Michael Benning (power play) 1-0 Denver
On the Denver power play, Brink took a shot from the right face-off dot. His initial shot was blocked, but the rebound came right to Brink and instead of forcing a second shot, Brink made a pass back to Savoie at the top of the left circle and he was able to shoot it into an open net.
17:16 Jake Sanderson from Matt Kiersted and Grant Mismash (power play) 1-1 tie
Kiersted passed the puck from the top of the point to Sanderson at the top of the right circle and Sanderson fired a one-timed slap shot into the upper corner of the net for the goal.
0:30 Brett Edwards from Bobby Brink and Jaakko Heikkinen 2-1 Denver
On a 3-on-2 rush up the ice, Bobby Brink made a saucer pass from the right wing halfboards to an open Edwards coming down the left side. Edwards made a beautiful snipe into the upper corner of the net for the goal.
13:03 Ethan Frisch from Jake Sanderson and Collin Adams 2-2 tie
Sanderson chased down a loose puck in the left corner after skating it into the zone and made a backhand pass to Frisch at the right point. Frisch took a wrist shot that beat Chrona to the far side.
15:34 Jasper Weatherby unassisted 3-2 North Dakota
Weatherby stole a pass from Bobby Brink deep in the Denver zone, then skated the puck to the front of the net and scored between the legs of Chrona.
17:08 Carter Savoie from Mike Benning (power play) 3-3 tie
Benning skated the puck up the ice on the power play breakout. He pulled up just inside the North Dakota blue line and hit a streaking Carter Savoie, who fired a wrist shot from the top of the left cirlce that beat Scheel to the near side.
We've got our first OT of the #NCHCPod!— The NCHC (@TheNCHC) December 5, 2020
Savoie scores his 2nd of the night on the power play for @DU_Hockey to force the 3-on-3 session
: @MidcoSN | #NCHCPod x #PioneerTogether pic.twitter.com/xbIRGe8vLU
1:17 Jordan Kawaguchi from Collin Adams 4-3 North Dakota
In the 3-on-3 overtime period, Adams skated the puck towards the center and left a drop pass for Kawaguchi. Kawaguchi drove the net from the right side and in close, roofed a shot over Chrona for the game-winner.
Notes and Thoughts:
-There wasn’t a whole lot to this game through the first 40 minutes. Obviously two very good, skilled teams, but neither could really generate much. But the game finally opened up in the third period and it was a delight to see these two teams go back-and-forth.
-It’s been a tough start for Denver. They’ve led in the third period of both of their games and haven’t been able to hold the lead in either. They’ve had a tough schedule facing the two other teams that they’ll likely be in the hunt with for the NCHC title, should we make it that far. I don’t know that the problem is anything specific, but they’ve dug themselves an early hole.
-It was interesting watching both of these teams attack off the rush tonight. When they were able to get clean zone entries, which was pretty rare, Denver was great attacking in straight lines with a lot of speed. North Dakota, on the other hand, did an excellent job of criss-crossing and changing lanes to create open space, which is what happened on Kawaguchi’s goal, when he slipped behind Collin Adams and took a pass to give him the room to get the goal.
-Really a standout game for Jake Sanderson with the pretty goal and assist. He was really good in a lot of other areas as well. I’ve always liked Sanderson’s game, but was a little skeptical whether he’d be the type of player worth a top-five draft pick. He looked like one tonight though.
-I’ve been going back through Denver’s first game in the Pod against Minnesota Duluth, and overall, I thought Bobby Brink was fairly quiet in the game. He was much more noticeable in tonight’s game. He got two assists which were both highlight reel passes. Of course, he also had the ugly turnover that led to North Dakota’s third goal. But overall, it was nice to see a more productive game from him heading into the World Juniors, where the US might need his offense.
-Carter Savoie now has three goals in two games for Denver. I’m not sure he’s creating a lot of offense outside of those goals, and he’s not likely to keep his current 50% shooting percentage for very long, so I don’t know that this hot start drastically changes my opinion on Savoie, who was a 4th round draft pick this fall. But everybody has their role on a hockey team, and being a guy that can fire the puck whenever he gets it on his stick in decent position can be a valuable role. Certainly Denver has had trouble putting the puck in the net otherwise.