St. Paul, Minn. — Blake Hillman broke a tie with 4:32 left and Denver beat Ferris State 6-3 on Sunday in the NCAA West Regional final to advance to the Frozen Four.
Nolan Zajac added another goal 25 seconds later, and Quentin Shore capped the scoring spree on a power-play with 2:27 left. Hillman, Dylan Gambrell and Danton Heinen each had a goal and two assists, and Trevor Moore also scored for the Pioneers (25-9-6).
Denver will face North Dakota in the national semifinals April 7 in Tampa, Florida. The Pioneers advanced to their 14th Frozen Four. They won the last of the eight national titles in 2005. That is also the last time they made the Frozen Four.
“It’s an amazing feeling, especially as a senior,” forward Grant Arnold said about snapping a 10-year Frozen Four drought. “I think about the tough losses that our class has had and think about the seniors from last year and all the alumni around the country, Denver’s a family and I think about our school and I think about everyone and it’s an awesome accomplishment for us.”
On Saturday night, Denver routed Boston University 7-2, but it took the Pioneers longer to put away the Bulldogs.
“Ferris is a tough team to play,” Arnold said. “They make it a frustrating game. They stay committed to the way thy play and they did a good job of that tonight. So it was frustrating after the first, but at Denver and with coach Montgomery we preach the process, and that’s all that matters to this team. It’s not about the scoreboard, it’s about our process. If we execute our process, we’re going to come out victorious, and that’s what happened tonight.”
Gerald Mayhew, Corey Mackin and Kyle Shempp scored for Ferris State (20-15-6). The Bulldogs beat St. Cloud State 5-4 in overtime Saturday.
Heinen opened the scoring at 5:34 of the first off a rebound of Gambrell’s shot.
Mayhew tied it on a breakaway with 4:47 left in the first.
Gambrell put the Pioneers back on top with 1:20 left on a shot from the top of the faceoff circle, but Ferris State tied it a minute later when Mackin’s crossing pass deflected off a Denver defenseman and past goalie Tanner Jaillet.
Less than three minutes into the third, Hillman threaded a pass through the neutral zone to Moore, who beat Smith cleanly for a 3-2 lead. Schempp tied it on a power play with 12:33 to go.
Denver will face the Fighting Hawks for the sixth time this season. The teams spilt four-regular season meetings and played to a 1-1 draw in the consolation game of the NCHC tournament.
“I think the second half (of the season) we’ve just been focusing on ourself, not the opponent, and I’m sure that’s what we’re going to do,” Shore said.