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UND shuts down Denver's Big Three to earn tie

UND's Johnny Simonson (10) and Shane Gersich (19) defend Denver's Dylan Gambrell on Saturday night in Ralph Engelstad Arena. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

When Troy Terry, Dylan Gambrell or Henrik Borgstrom—the Denver hockey team's Big Three—hit the ice this weekend at Ralph Engelstad Arena, UND's bench spoke up.

"Top line, top line, top line," UND defender Christian Wolanin said his team would yell out. "You're just a little harder when they're out there. We know how elite they are and how talented they can be, whether they're together or alone."

The Fighting Hawks' communication, as well as their last opportunity for line changes as the home team, was key in UND's 1-1 tie with Denver on Saturday night in the series finale.

UND held the Pioneers to 24 shots (20 through regulation) and the only shot on goal allowed was a bad angle mishap to Denver's fourth line center Kohen Olischefski in the first period.

The three NHL draft picks were silenced in an important game for the Fighting Hawks, who needed to escape to a bye week with mounting injuries.

Borgstrom had an eight-game point streak snapped, Terry had a six-game point streak snapped and Gambrell lost a five-game point streak.

In Denver's last four games, the Big Three accounted for 21 points. When UND played in Denver earlier in the season, Terry, Gambrell and Borgstrom accounted for 11 points.

In the two ties this time around in Grand Forks? The Big Three only had four points.

"We talked about shutting down the middle of the ice," UND goalie Cam Johnson said. "We talked about our forwards coming back to help our defense out. Our defense did a good job not giving much ice.

"They have guys who are going to be in the NHL soon. They're good players, and it's always fun to play against guys like that."

The Fighting Hawks were able to limit Denver to less than 25 shots both nights, an impressive feat for a UND team missing two solid centers and a top-four defenseman.

Coming into Saturday, Denver was averaging 36 shots per game, second-most in the NCAA. The Pioneers have put up 40 or more shots eight times.

"We had some matchups going into this weekend with the last change," UND coach Brad Berry said. "Any time you limit that team to 20-some shots, you're doing something right. Guys took pride in that. We did a good job defending."

Tom Miller

Miller has been with the Grand Forks Herald sports department for the past 13 years. He's also a Grand Forks native and UND graduate. 

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