Penalties cancel out Bulldogs' fast start, Denver rallies for OT win
Minnesota Duluth jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, but No. 1-ranked Denver fought back to win 3-2 in overtime on Friday.
DULUTH — Despite taking an early 2-0 lead, Minnesota Duluth’s upset attempt of No. 1-ranked Denver fell just short as the Pioneers rallied for a 3-2 overtime NCHC victory on Friday at Amsoil Arena.
Denver sophomore wing Tristan Bronz scored 2:14 into the 3-on-3 overtime period to give league-leading Denver two more points atop the NCHC standings while the fifth-place Bulldogs were left with one.
“We want to make a statement against that team,” UMD sophomore center Dominic James said. “We came out strong, we just got to figure out with this young group how to continue to do that for 60 minutes, and not really take our foot off the pedal there.”
UMD — which hosts Denver again at 7:07 p.m. Saturday — thought it was en route to a regulation win and three-point night Friday when sophomore center Dominic James scored what would have been his second goal of the night with 8:10 to go in the third period. However, the goal was taken away after Denver coach David Carle challenged for goaltender interference.
Bulldogs freshman wing Ben Steeves made contact with DU senior goalie Magnus Chrona on the play, knocking the Pioneers netminder to the ice. The contact came at the side of the net, outside the crease — and it could be argued Steeves was shoved into Chrona — but the NCHC officials decided there was enough to overturn their call on the ice.
“There was a puck to the net and I knew something's going to squirt out there,” James said of what he saw on the play. “Benny heard my voice and dished it back door. I guess he got a piece of the goalie. I disagree with the call, personally, but stuff happens and they disallowed it. We’ve got to keep going there, no matter what happens.”
UMD jumped out to a 2-1 lead over Denver in the first period with all three goals coming on power plays. The Bulldogs scored on both of their man advantages via a shot from the slot by James 6:23 into the game and a one-timer by Steeves over five minutes later. It was Steeves’ 12th goal in 15 games.
DU sophomore center Massimo Rizzo drove the home net to cut UMD’s margin to one less than two minutes prior to the first intermission. Rizzo’s goal came on the Pioneers' fourth power play of the period, and after DU failed to convert on a 42-second 5-on-3 advantage.
Of the four penalties the Bulldogs took in the first period, three came in their offensive zone, and a couple of them were “needless” penalties, UMD coach Scott Sandelin said.
“They had nothing going, we're up 2-to-nothing and give them power play after power play, a five-on-three,” Sandelin said. “We gave them every opportunity to get back in the game and they did. That's why they're a good team. Good teams stay with games and they find ways to win.”
Penalties were 7-5 in favor of UMD on Friday — with four of UMD’s seven penalties occuring in the offensive zone — while power plays skewed 6-4 in Denver’s favor.
The Pioneers tied the game at 2-2 via the 13th goal of the season by sophomore wing Carter Mazur 64 seconds into the third period, just five seconds after a DU power play that carried over from the second period expired.
Denver finished 1-for-6 on power plays Friday while UMD went 2-for-4, failing to capitalize on a man advantage late in the third period.
“The big thing is we just need to stay out of the penalty box,” said UMD senior goaltender Matthew Thiessen, who made 30 saves Friday. “When we're taking penalties a lot throughout the game — if they're good penalties, if they aren't good penalties — we are still killing a lot of penalties and stuff. That’s when they have that (offensive) zone time. If we limit that and play like we did for that first period, we'll be good to go tomorrow.”
UMD freshmen defenseman Aiden Dubinsky returned to the lineup Friday after missing the previous five games, but another name was added to the injury report. Junior wing Blake Biondi of Hermantown left the game with an upper body injury after taking a hard hit along the boards in the second period. He returned from a brief visit to the locker room to finish the second, but he didn’t come out for the third period.
Matt’s Three Stars
3. DU sophomore wing Carter Mazur — Scored the game-tying goal for Denver 64 seconds into the third period, catching UMD off-guard after the penalty kill.
2. UMD senior goaltender Matthew Thiessen — Played one of, if not the best, game of his short UMD career, making 30 saves.
1. DU sophomore wing Tristan Broz — Fired the game-winner through in OT to complete Denver’s comeback.
Minnesota Duluth 2-0-0-0—2
1. UMD, Dominic James (Quinn Olson, Wyatt Kaiser), 6:23 (pp)
2. UMD, Ben Steeves (Isaac Howard, Derek Daschke), 11:42 (pp)
3. DU, Massimo Rizzo (Magnus Chrona), 18:23 (pp)
4. DU, Carter Mazur (Jack Devine, Mike Benning), 1:04
5. DU, Tristan Broz (Jared Wright, Benning), 2:14
Saves — Magnus Chrona, DU, 23; Matthew Thiessen, UMD, 30.
Power play — DU 1-6; UMD 2-4. Penalties — DU 5-10; UMD 7-14.