DENVER – Behind strong goaltending and a strong penalty kill, No. 18 Denver downed No. 2/2 North Dakota, 4-1, Sunday night in their series opener at Magness Arena. DU’s win snapped UND’s six-game win streak and also marked the Pioneers (5-7-1) second win over the Fighting Hawks (9-3-1) in three meetings this season.
Sophomore goaltender Magnus Chrona made 28 saves on 29 North Dakota shots, while helping Denver finish a perfect 6-for-6 on the penalty kill, with two kills in each period. The Pioneers potted two goals in each of the first two frames, before UND broke up the shutout late.
Senior Ryan Barrow opened the scoring with 6:12 left in the first frame when Steven Jandric and Jaakko Heikkinen forced a turnover on a North Dakota breakout and quickly fed Barrow, who snuck the puck past UND junior goalie Adam Scheel from a sharp angle. Three minutes later Denver doubled its lead when freshman Reid Irwin scored his third goal in his last two games, cleaning up a rebound from a Bobby Brink back-hand attempt.
Midway through the second stanza DU struck again when senior Jake Durflinger crashed the net, was knocked down, got back up and fired home a rebound from his knee to make it 3-0. Kyle Mayhew fired the initial shot from the blue line, while Heikkinen picked up his second assist of the night on the tally. Sophomore defenseman Justin Lee then capped Denver’s scoring four minutes later with a one-time blast from the blue line for his first goal of the season.
With only 1:11 remaining in the game, freshman defenseman Tyler Kleven ripped a wrister through traffic and past Chrona to get North Dakota on the board and end the whitewash. Denver finished with a 30-29 edge in shots on goal in the win.
The long-time rivals wrap up their series in Denver on Monday night at 7:07 p.m. MT with the game on national TV on CBS Sports Network. UND needs one point to move into a tie for first place in the NCHC and two points to take sole possession of first.