By Shannon Valerio, Hockey VIPs Magazine
January 12, 2016
The week leading up to this weekend’s series against the University of Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks was one filled with optimism and enthusiasm. Many fans, myself included, couldn’t wait to see how the Pioneers would respond after tying the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in both games the previous weekend, a series where the Pioneers finally began to demonstrate their true potential.
Confidence in Net
With question of who will be the primary goaltender now in the past, Tanner Jaillet has emerged as the backbone of this team. Exceptional goaltending is a hallmark of the Denver organization, and Jaillet looks to be well on his way to filling those skates. With a 3-0 shutout win Friday in a game that was filled with six Denver penalties and a couple of shorthanded chances by UNO for a total of 35 shots, Jaillet proved he can give the Pioneers a chance to win every night.
Despite the strong defensive core that Montgomery bases his systems on, this year the defense had been fairly solid, but not spectacular. However, this weekend the defense that we’ve come to expect from the Pioneers in the Montgomery era has reappeared. The team as a whole looked to be much more in synch defensively. While the scoreboard shows the Pioneers giving up more shots than might be desired, the overall effort was much better with the Pioneers controlling the pace of both games.
Return of the Top Line
With goaltending and defense finally settling in, the top line has been able to do what they do best: Take advantages of the fewer chances they get. Playing a defensive system may seem in sharp contrast to being able to score goals, but for whatever reason, it works for this team. Perhaps focusing on good defense make them hold their sticks a little less tight. Although all three goals in Friday night’s game came from the defense, both Dylan Gambrell and Danton Heinen notched tallies on Saturday, giving the Pioneers what they’ve needed this year.
Not on the top line, but worth noting, is the emergence of Freshman Colin Staub. Although he’s been out of the line-up more than in, he took full advantage of his ice time this weekend with some beautiful set-ups for both Butcher’s and Levin’s goals. He looked very comfortable on the ice, so expect to see much more of him from here on out.
Sweeping on the road has to be a huge confidence booster for the team. Patience has paid off, and everyone on the team is doing what they do best. With the final pieces falling into place, Denver fans are anxious to see what the next two home series hold. Look to Magness arena to be the place to be this weekend!Tags: Colin Staub, Danton Heinin, denver hockey, Dylan Gambrell, NCAA Division I hockey, Tanner Jaillet, University of Denver, University of Denver hockey, University of Nebraska-Omaha, will butcher