Some teams play better from behind; they need something to chase in order to rise to the occasion. For the University of Denver Pioneers men's hockey team it's all about the first goal.
Their goal is to be first. Yes, that means a championship, but on a smaller scale it's about beating their opponent to the first goal of the game in order to claim victory after 60 minutes of play.
"You get to dictate the game," Head Coach Jim Montgomery said. "You're confidence grows and players really start to assert themselves."
An early lead doesn't seem to relax the Pioneers, but drive a hunger for more goals.
During this season, the Pioneers have scored the first goal 24 times, and out of those 24 they haven't lost one. They're 23-0-1 with the early lead.
"I think teams know what we're capable of, and coming out and getting on them right away, and getting a goal like that early, it can be defeating to teams," said sophomore forward, Troy Terry.
The Pioneers led early in both their match ups against Michigan Tech and Penn State in the first and second round of the Division I Men's Ice Hockey Championships in Cincinnati.
"When we score first, like right off the hop, like the Michigan Tech game, we came focused and ready to go," said senior defenseman Will Butcher. "When we score first like that usually things are firing on all cylinders and we're executing our game plan."
Two games down, two games to go to win a national championship. In order to finish first Denver may need to score first. One goal to help the Pioneers reach the ultimate goal.
Denver's plays Notre Dame on Thursday, April 6 at the United Center in Chicago, Ill. The other semifinal game is Minnesota-Duluth against Harvard. The national championship game is on April 8th.
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