BOSTON — The top two offenses in college hockey will square off in the national championship game Saturday night. Denver is averaging 4.25 goals per games; Minnesota State 4.12.
Denver vanquished Michigan on Thursday, defeating a team that Wolverines coach Mel Person said was in many ways a mirror image of his own squad.
But Minnesota State presents a different style than Michigan did, able to get and hold leads but shutting down the opposition.
That said, Denver also knows how to play with a lead. The Pioneers are 20-1-1 when scoring first and 22-1-1 when leading after two periods.
So while the Mavericks may pose a different challenge for the Pioneers that Michigan did, Denver knows how to make adjustments.
“One thing that helps is our (Loveland) regional, playing someone similar (to Minnesota State) in (UMass) Lowell and (Minnesota) Duluth,” said Denver senior forward Cameron Wright. “That’s a good starting point for us.
“Just playing our game is something that we’ve been successful with quite a bit this year. If we can do that, get the job done and we’ll be all right.”
Denver players have been able to adjust to different styles well, coach David Carle said.
“We have our own way of playing our game, and it’s adaptable to just about any style we go against,” he said. “We’re comfortable in a lot of different types of games and that’s a credit to our players and their ability to stick to our game plan and stick to our structure and being able to execute in different ways based on what the game calls for.”
At this time of the year, Carle said, sticking to the game plan is crucial.
“We’ve played three really good teams (in this tournament) so far, and this will be the fourth one,” he said. “I agree with Cam (Wright). I think there’s some similarities with Lowell and Duluth and the way (Minnesota State) defends and we’ve had success against those teams doing things a certain way, and I think that’s a great experience to have coming into the game tomorrow night.”
Denver’s Bobby Brink said his team has kept its focus as it has progressed through the tournament.
“Right after the (last) game, you just shift to the next one,” he said. “We’re focused right now on Minnesota State because this is the biggest game of the year.”