Roundup: Stars Lift Denver to Win in 3rd
St. Cloud Back on Track
CHN Staff Report
The battle for supremacy in the NCHC and nationally continued this weekend with North Dakota squaring off in Denver, representing the last two national champions.
Two weeks ago, Denver, which hadn't lost to that point, was swept by Western Michigan. Last week, Denver bounced back, sweeping a St. Cloud State team that hadn't lost before. Now, with both WMU and St. Cloud State earning sweeps of their own this week, Denver and North Dakota battled to a split, with the Pioneers bouncing back strong Saturday.
It was 1-1 after two periods, but Denver scored three times in the third period to win it. The Pioneers were aided by three North Dakota penalties in the third period, two of which led to goals.
North Dakota also had a game-tying goal disallowed when it was 2-1, because the officials said there was goaltender's interference on the play.
"We moved pucks a little bit quicker, we had good support, and we used walls," Denver coach Jim Montgomery said. "We challenged (the team), as a staff, to play with more competitiveness and desire. We thought that was the biggest piece missing to us. And going into the third, that's when we said, 'This is the perfect recipe for us, it's right in front of us and let's see what we're made of.' And the response we had, by everybody, was incredible. Then when we have the elite players we have, they can make you win the game."
Montgomery reunited Troy Terry and Henrik Borgstrom on a line, and teamed them with Colin Staub, and the trio exploded in the third. Terry set up Staub for the second goal on a beautiful play. Then Terry and Borgstrom scored power-play goals; for Borgstrom, it was his 13th goal overall, which leads the nation.
The weekend also saw the return of senior defenseman Tariq Hammond to the lineup for Denver. Hammond had his leg severely broken during last year's national championship game.
"Having Hammond back is such a huge boost to us physically, to us with leadership and warrior-like mentality. It's fun, it's only one step though."
On the downside, Denver lost defenseman Adam Plant to a concussion when he was drilled into the boards in the first period. North Dakota's Cole Smith received a game misconduct. For the game, North Dakota had 27 penalty minutes to just two for Denver.
"I don't know what their gameplan was — they were very undisciplined, that showed, and I'm glad our power play made them pay," Montgomery said. "But I'm happy with the job the refs did, they protected our players. There's nothing you can do to protect Adam Plant when he gets hit when he doesn't have the puck and he gets hit high. That's not part of the game of hockey, and unfortunately, Adam Plant's not doing real well right now."
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Second-ranked St. Cloud State scored four times in the third period, including a pair just 33 seconds apart, and completed a sweep of Colorado College with a 5-1 victory.
After CC got its goal, SCSU scored its third power-play goal of the night and extended the lead back to three when Patrick Newell poked the puck in following a scramble in front of the net. Judd Peterson closed the scoring with a shorthanded, empty-net goal with 3:41 remaining after CC coach Mike Haviland pulled Leclerc for an extra attacker during a power play.
“We played really well for the first 40 minutes tonight,” Haviland said. “Then we took a couple of undisciplined penalties and they made us pay.”
The Huskies got back to winning ways this weekend after getting swept by Denver last weekend, a series which ended in the teams' two coaches having to be separated by officials.
"I thought we played well from start to finish. Our guys came ready to play all weekend," St. Cloud coach Bob Motzko said. "We had a coming of age for some young players. ... (Freshman defenseman) Luke Jaycox, best game of the year, that's one guy coming of age. (Easton) Brodzinski gets another goal. He was in my doghouse a bit early in the game, but he fought through it."
For Jaycox, a 6-foot-3 defender, he scored his first goal of his career. Brodzinski, meanwhile, scored the same night his brother Jonny, a former St. Cloud standout, scored the first goal of his NHL career.
Motzko went back to junior goaltender Jeff Smith for a second straight night, the first time this season either goaltender has played both ends of a series. Smith started most of the team's games last year, but is being pushed by freshman David Hrenak, who has a .925 save percentage. Smith, who only had a .906 last year, has risen to the challenge and is now at .931.
"We were .500 in league play, we just go above, we're back at home, and it was to send a message and show our young guys that's how you bounce back," Motzko said about starting Smith. "That's what we needed to happen. Young David will be back in there at some point, but he learned a lesson tonight."
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Miami rallied for a weekend split with Minnesota-Duluth with a 3-2 win Friday at Goggin Ice Center.
Carson Meyer put Miami ahead in the second period, then Josh Melnick scored what proved to be the game winner early in the third.
"It took us a little bit to get our legs tonight," Miami coach Enrico Blasi said. "I didn't think we had it right off the bat. They had the better of us with energy and getting to loose pucks.
"I wanted our team to focus on the moment and just worry about the first five minutes and go from there, and then we could re-focus and make sure we were ready to go for the next five minutes."
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Western Michigan completed the weekend sweep of Nebraska-Omaha after a 5-2 win at Lawson Ice Arena.
Wade Allison tallied two goals for the Broncos (8-4-1, 5-1-0 NCHC), who sit atop of the NCHC standings.
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In the WCHA, Bowling Green earned a 4-1 win for a weekend split with Minnesota State. Alec Rauhauser scored twice to lead the way. The last three Bowling Green goals all came on 5-on-3s, including one with 19 seconds left in the second period, followed by another 54 seconds into the third. ... Christian Rajic contributed Alabama-Huntsville's first hat trick by a freshman since Jared Ross in March 2002, as the Chargers defeated Lake Superior Statre, 5-3.