On to the National Championship game — that’s where the University of Denver Men’s Hockey team are headed after defeating the Notre Dame Fighting Irish by a score of 6-1 on Thursday night in the Frozen Four semifinal in Chicago.
The DU Pioneers will skate for their eighth National Championship on Saturday night when they face NCHC in-conference rival Minnesota Duluth for all the marbles. Puck drop is at 6:00 pm MT and the game will be televised live on ESPN.
Thursday’s game was more of the same for the Pioneers, as they stayed hot offensively and completely dominated the Irish on the scoreboard. The Pios came into the game as the highest scoring team left in the tournament, scoring five goals in the first round against Michigan Tech and six in the second round against Penn State. That trend continued, and started early on Thursday evening.
The scoring started with the fourth line getting things going deep in the offensive zone when Emil Romig took a pass from Colin Staub, came out in front of the net and roofed a shot past Irish goaltender Cal Peterson. This goal made it 1-0 very early in the game.
Just minutes later, Will Butcher tried a wrap around and slipped off his stick — luckily, Henrik Borgström was there to bury it in a wide open cage to make it 2-0, which is the lead that Denver took into the first intermission.
Later in the second period is where the flood gates opened, as the Pios scored three times to take a 5-0 lead into the third. At 14:07 of the second, defenseman Tariq Hammond scored on a beautiful 2-on-1 play between he and forward Evan Janssen. Both players displayed great hands on the play, as Janssen made a slick move to deke out the defender and then slid a backhand pass towards Hammond. The pass was towards Hammond’s feet, so it required great focus and hands to pull off the shot. Just about two minutes later, Dylan Gambrell scored his first of the game on a wrap around attempt that banked off Peterson, the Notre Dame goalie.
With under two minutes to go in the period, Evan Ritt continued the scoring by notching the fourth line’s second goal of the game. This made it 5-0 after two frames.
Notre Dame broke the shut out that Tanner Jaillet had going when Avalanche prospect Cam Morrison deflected a shot in from the point past the Denver goaltender. This made the score 5-1 at the time. It seemed like Notre Dame had a bit of life injected into them after this goal, but Denver was just too strong for them to contend with.
Dylan Gambrell scored his second goal of the game when he looked to be trying to feed a pass toward the slot area and it went off of Peterson’s skate and into the net. Whether he ment to do that on purpose or not is the question, but either way it was a great play to get the puck in a scoring area and it worked out will for the sophomore forward.
Final score: Denver 6, Notre Dame 1.
Tanner Jaillet ended up only having to make 16 saves in the victory, but he was great when his team needed him. He will definitely get more work in Saturday’s Championship game against Duluth, so hopefully he reamins sharp.
Be sure to stay clicked on 303 Sports Network and follow @303Hockey on Twitter all weekend for coverage leading up to Saturday night’s National Championship game!