The No. 3 Denver Pioneers took to the ice on Friday night at Magness Arena to host the Western Michigan Broncos in opening week of NCHC in-conference play. DU came out on top, 3-1 in game one of the two-game series.
In his return to the lineup, sophomore forward Dylan Gambrell — the team’s leading scorer last season — made his impact known scoring a goal in the second period to put DU up 1-0 and recording five shots on goal. Gambrell was named as the First Star of the Game for his efforts. He was returning from an upper body injury suffered on the opening weekend of the season, and reportedly had “been begging [Coach Jim Montgomery] to play.” The DU coach made freshman Liam Finlay a late scratch and inserted his star sophomore into the lineup.
Later in the second period, senior Evan Janssen made it 2-0 with his third goal of the season. The Pios carried that lead into the third period, but it was quickly cut in half by Western Michigan, as forward Griffen Molino scored on the power play to make it 2-1.
At 10:06 of the third period, DU captain Will Butcher scored his second goal of the year, assisted by forwards Jarid Lukosevicius and Troy Terry — this made it 3-1 Denver and they were able to hold that lead the rest of the way.
Junior goaltender Tanner Jaillet wasn’t extraordinarily busy on the night, stopping 25-of-26 shots faced, but he came up huge in the later stages to conserve the Pioneers’ lead. The victory puts Jaillet’s record at 5-1-0 on the season, and he carries an amazing 1.68 GAA and .933 SV%, staking his early claim as a legit contender for the Mike Richter Award for the best goaltender in all of college hockey.
Shots on goal by period
1st period: WMU-4, DU-12
2nd period: WMU-12, DU-15
3rd period: WMU-10, DU-8
Total shots: WMU-26, DU-35
Power play chances
Western Michigan – 1/5, 3 shots
Denver – 0/4, 1 shot
Three Stars of the Game
- Dylan Gambrell, Denver — 1 goal, 5 shots
- Tanner Jaillet, Denver — 25 saves, win
- Will Butcher, Denver — 1 goal
The win is DU’s fifth straight, and puts their record at 5-2-0 overall, with a 1-0-0 record in-conference. Game two of the series will be on Saturday night at Magness, puck drops at 7:00 pm MT.