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DU's Montgomery: 'You don't get to see great games like this very often'

A general view of the Target Center ice during the 2016 NCHC Frozen Faceoff. File photo / Forum News Service

MINNEAPOLIS—In 38 games this season, the University of Denver has allowed more than three goals one time.

It won that game.

The No. 1-ranked Pioneers enter today's National Collegiate Hockey Conference Frozen Faceoff semifinal showdown against rival North Dakota (7:38 p.m., Target Center) with a host of impressive numbers.

The Pioneers have won their last 13 games. Their last loss was Jan. 20 against St. Cloud State—and that one took overtime. They've only played a single one-goal game in the last month.

They lead the nation in scoring defense, giving up just 1.84 per game. Every other team in the country has allowed more than three goals at least three times this season.

Since Jan. 1, the Pioneers lead the nation in offense, too, scoring 4.22 goals per game.

All those statistics have led up to a nation-leading 28 victories, a No. 1 national ranking, a solidified No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament and a Penrose Cup championship.

"They're a team that checks the right way," UND coach Brad Berry said. "They have good sticks. They are always in position. They advance pucks. Their D-corps is very mobile. They get pucks up the ice. They seem to not play a lot of time in their own end.

"They haven't changed a lot in the course of the last year as far as how they play."

Denver finished NCHC play with an 18-3-3 record. It was the fewest league losses any NCHC team posted since the conference began four years ago.

UND hasn't seen the Pioneers since Nov. 11-12, when Denver came to Ralph Engelstad Arena and earned a tie and a victory. That was in the middle of a 15-game unbeaten streak for the Pioneers.

Now, they are on another run—one they hope leads back to the NCAA Frozen Four.

UND, meanwhile, is aiming to get into the NCAA tournament.

The Fighting Hawks need one win to assure a trip to the NCAAs for a 15th consecutive season.

They've surged lately, winning four games in a row—the team's longest winning streak since the first five games of the season.

Tonight's matchup promises to be a showdown between some of the country's elite players, too.

Denver freshman Henrik Borgstrom, the NCHC's rookie of the year, UND rookie Tyson Jost and UND sophomore Brock Boeser were all recently named among the top 31 hockey prospects not currently in the NHL by The Hockey News.

Borgstrom is Denver's leading scorer with 38 points in 32 games.

Jost and Boeser both have 15 goals and 31 points for the Fighting Hawks (20-14-3)

"People better buy some tickets because you don't get to see great games like this very often," Denver coach Jim Montgomery said. "We're expecting it to be just a barnburner.

"No doubt, the intensity of this game is going to be great from the start, just like the Frozen Four last year. Even look at the two games at North Dakota this year. They were intense games, back and forth. It's going to be great hockey."

Brad Elliott Schlossman

Schlossman is in his 13th year covering college hockey for the Herald. In 2016, he was named the top beat writer in the country by the Associated Press Sports Editors. He has voted in the national college hockey poll since 2007 and has served as a member of the Hobey Baker and Patty Kazmaier Award committees.

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