1. Denver loses forwards Bobby Brink and Jakko Heikkinen to injury.

Denver finished the game without two of its top 10 scorers as UND beat the Pioneers 4-1 on Friday in the series opener at Ralph Engelstad Arena.

Jaakko Heikkinen and Bobby Brink both left the game in the second period.

Denver coach David Carle said after the game he didn't know the extent of the injuries.

Heikkinen and Brink were on the same line, so Carle said the coaching adjustment wasn't too difficult.

"We were able to keep our lines together for the most part and just spot in their left wing here and there," Carle said. "We just had to keep our shifts short and make sure that we were changing quickly."

Brink scored Denver's lone goal on the power play at 3:17 of the second period.

Brink, a 2019 second-round pick of the Philadelphia Flyers, was the NCHC Rookie of the Month for January after leading conference rookies with nine points and six assists.

2. Pioneers changed up goalie rotation

Denver has spent most of the season starting goalie Magnus Chrona on Fridays and Devin Cooley on Saturdays.

The Pioneers changed that rotation against UND, starting Cooley, a 6-foot-5 junior, who entered the game with a 1.64 goals-against average.

"I don't know; it was more of a hunch than anything," Carle said. "There's nothing too much to look into it. To be truthful, I just wanted to try something different."

3. UND assistant Dane Jackson wanted a focus on blocked shots

Not only was UND goalie Peter Thome strong, but the defense in front of the streaking netminder was active.

The Fighting Hawks blocked 13 shots, including four by Matt Kiersted.

Forward Shane Pinto said assistant coach Dane Jackson made a point of blocking shots in the pregame.

"You know, I think that's just Sioux mentality," Pinto said. "I think before the game (Jackson) really keyed in on that. He said we've got to eat some pucks tonight. They're going to make some plays but we kind of have to just block shots, and I think we did a good job of that."

4. Thome has worked on seeing through traffic with Goehring

One area of Thome's game that has seen improvement this season is his ability to see through traffic in front.

Thome said that's an aspect of his game UND assistant Karl Goehring has worked on with him.

"Never really accepting ... it's your job to see the puck and never just be, like, oh I lost it, that's not really on me," Thome said. "You have to keep battling to find it and never really give up on it, even if it's already been shot. And, you know, trust your positioning a little bit and get as big as you can and fill the space."

5. Junior class taking responsibility

UND's resurgence to the top of college hockey has come with a major boost from the junior class, with key performances from Thome and the top line of Grant Mismash, Collin Adams and Jordan Kawaguchi.

Thome said his class wanted to right the ship after the program missed the NCAA tournament two years in a row.

"You know when you're a freshman, you think you're going to be here forever and even when you're a sophomore it's, you know, you still feel so far away from being done here," Thome said. "As a junior, we're in the back half, and we haven't made the tournament yet. It's on us. We don't want to be that class that sends this program back a few years. We took that on our shoulders. I know every guy in our class worked their tails off this summer to try and get better and be ready for the season. I think that's what you're seeing."