DENVER - Sophomore Zac Larraza (Scottsdale, Ariz) scored two goals in less than a two-minute span with under six minutes remaining in the third period to turn a 4-4 tie into a 7-4 victory for the No. 9/9 University of Denver ice hockey team over No. 13/13 Nebraska Omaha on Friday night before a crowd of 4,907 at Magness Arena.
The win marks the Pioneers fourth straight win and their fourth in a row against a ranked opponent, marking the first time since the 2007-08 campaign that Denver has notched four consecutive victories against ranked foes. In addition, the triumph represents the first time it has defeated four straight teams ranked among the top-13 nationally since winning the final four games of the 2003-04 season en route to the NCAA title.
The victory improves the Pioneers record to 13-6-3 on the season and 9-5-1 in league play, while Nebraska Omaha slips to 13-9-1 and 9-5-1 in the conference loop.
I'm proud of the fact that our team found a way to win," Denver coach George Gwozdecky said. "They responded when things were looking their bleakest. We beat a team that was extremely hot. They were first place in our league and can really score. As bizarre and strange as that game was from my standpoint and the way we played, the most important thing was we got a very important two points."
Denver (13-6-3, 9-5-1 WCHA) needed just a pair of shots to take an early 2-0 advantage. Junior David Makowski (Wildwood, Mo.) registered his sixth goal of the season on a power play goal just 2:29 into the first period. Junior Nick Shore (Denver, Colo.) slipped a pass thru the front edge of the crease, allowing Makowski to bury a one-timer, giving the Pioneers the 1-0 advantage.
Sophomore Matt Tabrum (Colorado Springs, Colo.) increased the Denver margin to 2-0 at the 8:41 mark of the opening period with a successful breakaway opportunity following a turnover in the Omaha zone. Tabrum took the puck the length of the ice and beat Omaha goalie John Faulkner on his stick side for his fifth tally of the season.
Pioneer goalie Juho Olkinuora (Helsinki, Finland) turned away 21 shots in the first period, allowing Denver to keep momentum firmly on its side heading into the first intermission despite the fact that it was out-shot 21-6 for the frame.
Nebraska Omaha (13-9-1, 9-5-1 WCHA) got on the board 3:57 into the second period on a goal by Josh Archibald finished off a 3-on-1 break by beating Olkinuora over his shoulder to make the score 2-1.
Freshman Quentin Shore (Denver, Colo.) responded almost immediately for Denver as he buried his seventh goal of the season just 14 seconds later to re-establish a two-goal advantage for the Pioneers at 3-1. Shore has scored four goals in the last four games overall after just registering three in the initial 18 contests.
Nebraska Omaha managed to get back within a single goal when Andrej Sustr netted a power play goal at 17:39 of the second to make the score 3-2.
Senior Shawn Ostrow (Calgary, Alberta) answered for Denver at 19:30 with his seventh goal of the season, which saw him bat the puck out of the air and into the Nebraska Omaha net following a rebound to up the margin to 4-2.
Brent Gwidt trimmed the margin to 4-3 with a short-handed goal 25 seconds into the final period, the sixth shorthanded tally that Denver has allowed this season.
Nebraska Omaha managed to knot the game at 4-4 on a goal by Ryan Walters at the 12:19 mark of the third period.
Tabrum added an empty net tally with three seconds remaining in regulation to account for the final 7-4 margin.
Denver won despite being out-shot for the game 42-22. Both teams came away 1-for-3 on power play opportunities.
Olkinuora made 38 saves while earning his fourth straight win.
Denver won the overall faceoff battle 43-33. Shawn Ostrow (Calgary, Alberta) led the Pioneers on the draws capturing 19-of-32.
Denver will wrap up its weekend series against Omaha on Saturday night in a 7:07 p.m. (MT) start at Magness Arena that will be televised live on ROOT Sports and broadcast on 102.9 FM KDSP (Denver).