Series of the Week: Denver vs Minnesota Duluth
This weeks college hockey series of the week is a clash between two NCHC rivals, as the No. 7 Denver Pioneers will welcome the defending national champion No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs to Magness Arena for a two-game set this weekend.
The top-ranked Bulldogs have only fallen once this season, as they are looking to continue their eight-game winning streak, which includes an impressive sweep over then No. 1 Notre Dame two short weeks ago. They then continued their impressive form during their first conference test of the season, a sweep of Colorado College last weekend, bringing them to 8-1-1 on the year.
The Pioneers, on the other hand, are trying to cope with their first two losses of the year, after getting swept by now No. 2 St. Cloud State this past weekend. They had an incredibly strong start to the season, winning five of their first six games, the one exception being a hard-fought 3-3 tie against Alaska, and come into this weekend at 5-2-1.
Denver will likely look to lean on its veterans to try to get back to its winning ways. The Pioneers should look no further than senior captain Jarid Lukosevicius, who also happens to be their top goal scorer so far this year.
His seven goals are tied for the team lead with fellow lineman and junior forward Liam Findley. The team has also benefitted from the solid production out of Calgary Flames sixth-round draft pick, Emilio Pettersen, who leads the team with eight assists.
Minnesota-Duluth has a future NHL assist man of their own in St. Louis Blues second-round draft pick Scott Perunovich, who happens to lead the nation with 13 assists. Outside of Perunovich, the top-ranked Bulldogs don’t rely on any one skater too heavily, as they already have 12 players with multiple goals on the season. Senior captain Parker Mackay has led the charge, as he scored two goals and added an assist during the weekend sweep of Colorado College, bringing his point total to 11 on the year.
The Bulldogs' junior goalie Hunter Shephard hasn’t allowed more than two goals during UMD’s eight-game winning streak, recording his first shutout of the season last weekend in a 19-save effort. Across the ice from Shephard will be Denver netminder Devin Cooley, who will looking to get back on track after giving up four goals in each of the Pioneers losses this past weekend, despite saving over 35 shots each game.
Denver will look to make a massive statement in college hockey this week against the nation’s top team, in an effort to right the ship after their first two losses of the year. However, Minnesota-Duluth has looked to be in a class of their own so far this year, as they attempt to hand the Pioneers two more losses, as they have done to each of their past four opponents.
Be sure to tune into NCHC.TV both Friday and Saturday night, as these games have the potential to be a can’t miss series.
Jack Brusco is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.