Denver Has Nothing Special
Power Play, Penalty Kill Dooms Pioneers
by Joshua Seguin/Staff Writer
MANCHESTER, N.H. In a game that Denver had control of for most of the first 30 minutes, its opponent exploited a weakness that had reared its ugly head at multiple points during the season for the Pioneers — penalties in bad situations and poor special teams play.
Denver held a 2-1 lead against UNH in the Northeast Regional semifinal with just under six minutes remaining in the second period, but was unable to kill a penalty by Larkin Jacobson at the 12 minute, 54 second mark. UNH scored on the power play, as Trevor van Riemsdyk sent a point shot toward the net, which trickled past Juho Olkinuora. The goal tied the game and the Pioneers took another late penalty in the period. UNH scored as the penalty expired to send the Pioneers into the dressing room down 3-2.
“When we were 5-on-5 you could see the first 30 minutes that we controlled the play getting chances and in their zone,” said forward Chris Knowlton. “It seemed as though they didn’t have an answer, then we took some penalties. They were able to score two on the power play. It changed the complexion of the game. If we were able to stay 5-on-5, the outcome probably would have been different.”
Denver took most crucial, and controversial, penalty of the game early in the third period, when Nick Shore was given a five minute major and game misconduct for contact to the head. Officials appeared to use video replay to determine whether contact to the head was made, raising many questions, because no official had his arm up originally to call the penalty. But officials later said they used video only to identify the culprit, which is allowed.
“I haven’t gotten a chance to look it,” said Denver forward Nick Shore. “I obviously wasn’t trying to contact his head, but, as I said, I haven’t had a chance to look at it.”
Despite having a good penalty kill and killing the full five minutes, the Pioneers were noticeably gassed late in the game; they were also missing, in Shore, a crucial piece to their comeback puzzle — their leading scorer.
“Losing Nick like that, he is obviously one of our go to guys but it was a good kill for us,” said defenseman and captain Paul Phillips. “I thought we responded really well to the adversity but they got another shortly thereafter. It is just kind of how the game goes sometimes.”
Down 4-2 late, Denver struggled to score on two late power plays.
“They are a very good team on the power play,” said Denver sophomore Matt Tabrum. “They capitalized on the power plays that they had, and for us we didn’t put the puck in the net. If we put one or two in the net it’s a totally different game.”
Whether penalties and special teams were ultimately the difference is questionable. Denver played a risky defensive game, as it has been known to do.
“I felt that the balance I was talking about yesterday, we were able to generate some chances early in the game,” said Denver coach George Gwozdecky. “The game titled when we started taking penalties in the second period. Their power play did a terrific job.”
Both teams had their chances but it came down to finishing and taking advantage of the opportunities presented, and Denver did not on this night. UNH was allotted many glorious opportunities on their power play, while the Pioneers received almost none on their power-play opportunities.
“We obviously played really well the first half of the game,” said Shore. “In the end the specialty teams killed us.”