Troy Terry leads Denver past CC to begin conference playoffs

Highlands Ranch product Troy Terry had a hand in the University of Denver’s first three goals Friday as the top-ranked Pioneers held serve against Colorado College to begin a three-game National Collegiate Hockey Conference playoff series at Magness Arena.

The NCHC top-seeded Pioneers won 4-1 for their 12th consecutive victory — and 13th straight over the eighth-seeded Tigers, who will see their season end Saturday with another loss. A potential Game 3 is Sunday night, but only a monumental upset Saturday will set that stage. Denver is an NCAA-best 27-4-4 since the second week of the season (27-6-4 overall).

“It’s awesome,” Terry said of DU’s 13-game winning streak in a rivalry that begin in 1949. “I’m sure at the end of the game you could see the tension between these two teams. It’s a very big rivalry and to have that much success recently is pretty awesome. It means a lot to our program, and I know it means a lot to the alums. We definitely want to keep this momentum going against CC tomorrow.”

Terry scored DU’s first goal, the sophomore’s 17th of the season, before assisting on goals by freshman wing Liam Finlay and sophomore defenseman Blake Hillman as the hosts took a 3-0 lead midway through the second period. Colorado College (8-23-4) got a goal from sophomore wing Westin Michaud to get within 3-1 heading into third, which became chippy with body slams, cross checks and other shenanigans.

CC played a great first period and appeared to take a 1-0 lead before officials ruled that video replay failed to prove the puck crossed the goal line on a wrap-around shot. The defensive-minded Tigers were desperately looking for the early lead.

“We didn’t care if it was a goal, wasn’t a goal — we were worried about the next play,” DU coach Jim Montomery said. “We were happy with the way we were playing.”

Said Terry: “We knew it was going to be a tough game to score on. I thought we played pretty well the first period but our focus between periods was to not get frustrated. I was lucky, I was able to get that first goal, and it opened up for us. Sometimes, that’s all it takes. Our biggest thing is to not get frustrated with their style of play and just focus on our game and what has made us so successful.”

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DU senior center Matt Marcinew, who was 14-2 in faceoffs through two periods, scored midway through the third period.

Finlay’s goal was his fourth in his last four games and Hillman struck for the first time this season. Three of Hillman’s four career goals have come in the postseason.

DU goalie Tanner Jaillet, a junior, had a relatively easy night with 21 saves. At the other end, freshman Alex Leclerc made 42 saves for the Tigers.

Denver’s seniors and Montgomery, who is in his fourth year, are 15-2 against CC, including 5-0 this season. With a victory Saturday, DU’s 14th consecutive win will tie the 1977-78 team for the third-longest winning streak in program history. The record is 22 games, in 1967-68.

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