Bulldogs fall 3-1 to Denver in NCHC Frozen Faceoff semi-final

 Riley Tufte attacks the net in tonight's game against Denver. Photo courtesy of Brett Groehler 

Riley Tufte attacks the net in tonight's game against Denver. Photo courtesy of Brett Groehler 

Come tomorrow night, a new team will hoist the National Collegiate Hockey Conference Frozen Faceoff trophy as the University of Minnesota Duluth men’s hockey title defense fell apart as Denver University knocked off the Bulldogs 3-1 tonight for the fifth time this season.

DU got out in front first when Hobey Baker finalist Henrik Borgstrom fired home a wrist shot just 10 seconds into the Pioneers man advantage. The Bulldogs used their first power play to their advantage as rookie blueliner Scotty Perunovich equalized the contest at one apiece with a wrist shot from the top of the left circle 1:37 into period two.

A turnover over in the Bulldogs defensive zone led to Denver’s game winning goal as Colin Staub buried a lose puck out front at 4:22 of the middle frame. With 49 seconds left in regulation Denver capitalized on the Bulldogs empty to make it 3-1.

Missed opportunities on the power play tonight is what the Bulldogs will look back on the most. Midway through the second period, UMD had 60 seconds of 5-on-3 power play but couldn’t capitalize. With 17:52 left in the second period, the Bulldogs were awarded a five-minute man advantage after Blake Hillman got tossed from the contest for his check from behind on Blake Young. UMD finished 1-4 on the power play.

"It was disappointing certainly, I don't think we played a good game offensively at all," said UMD Head Coach Scott Sandelin. "I thought defensively we did a better job, we had opportunities on the power plays and you have to capitalize especially against this team."

UMD outshot the Pioneers 25-19 for the game and 16-4 in the second period alone.

The Bulldogs play North Dakota tomorrow afternoon in the third-place game. UMD will try to make it 9 consecutive victories over their NCHC rival from Grand Forks. A win tomorrow and the Bulldogs will almost certainly clinch their spot in the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament.

SportsAustin Rush