Montgomery Has Harsh Words After Denver Blows Big Lead
Dartmouth Scores 5 Straight Goals to Earn Upset
Denver still has a 10-4-4 record, and heads into the break fifth in the Pairwise — a pretty good measure by most standards.
But, for a team anointed as having a strong chance to repeat as national champions, Denver is finding a road that has gotten the best of many teams in the past. It has fallen into a trap of bad habits, and it has coach Jim Montgomery more than a bit annoyed.
"We don't play the game the right way. It's quite embarrassing," Montgomery said.
His remarks were pointed after Denver blew a 3-0 lead and lost to Dartmouth, 5-4, at Magness Arena. A Dartmouth team that came into the game 2-8-1, and even after the win is still ranked 57th in the Pairwise.
Montgomery has been particularly annoyed at the last five games, despite a 2-1-2 record in that span. It started on a weekend in Duluth where the Pioneers won 1-0 and 2-1, and Montgomery remarked that both teams played poorly. Last weekend, Denver tied Colorado College both nights, thought Montgomery seemed relatively pleased at the time.
Then Dartmouth came to town. Friday was a 1-0 win, and Montgomery saw warning signs. Saturday night was a meltdown in many areas.
"I'd say if it's a one-time thing (it's OK), but it's a five-time thing. There's something inherently wrong within our group," Montgomery said.
"The new guys are not the problem. They're playing hard, they're playing well. They're starting to fulfill the roles that we need fulfilled."
Kohen Olischefski and Jack Doremus combined for three goals, the first goals of their career for each of the freshman. Troy Terry added his eighth.
Denver was up 3-0 after one period, including two power-play goals. Dartmouth then stunned the hometown team by scoring three times in the second period to tie it.
"We got that first power-play goal and then we really started to break the space, and support pucks well. And then it was non-existent in the second," Montgomery said. "We had two chances on really nice plays to go up 4-0 and we didn't. And I think with the time and space we had on those plays, everyone thought it was going to be easy. And it's the second goal (allowed) that really bothers me, because I put out a veteran line and we told them we needed to change momentum, and they just didn't play well. They were on the wrong side of pucks, they were reaching for pucks, there was no physicality, and we need leadership from veteran lines, and up front we don't have a lot of veterans."
Collin Rutherford scored his first goal of the season with 1:37 remaining to give Dartmouth the lead for good.
The last two seasons, Denver went on monster second-half runs, culminating in a Frozen Four appearance both times, with last year's ending in a national title. Can that happen again?
"I hope so," Montgomery said. "We were able to regroup two years ago. We're going to have to or it's going to be a real frustrating year. ... I hope we can repeat the second half of the last two years. I don't have the same feeling as the last two years, because I question the character in our dressing room."