Shore’s natural hat trick, Cowley’s shutout help Denver trounce Air Force

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DENVER — With the student body already gone for the holiday break, the first period started out a little sluggishly for both Denver and Air Force. but a four-goal second period, including a natural hat trick by Quentin Shore, led the Pioneers to a dominating 7-0 win over the Falcons at Magness Arena.

“The building was a little flat tonight, so we knew we needed to create our own energy,” said Denver coach Jim Montgomery. “I thought Q Shore was the difference tonight for us. He really got moving after the last 10 minutes of the first period when I didn’t think we were very good and [Evan] Cowley came up with some big saves.

“Our skill guys made skill plays tonight. The power play was really good and I thought we executed really well.”

Leading 1-0 after a slow first period, Shore scored his first of the period with the Pioneers a man down. Taking a feed from Joey LaLeggia at center ice, Shore toe-dragged the puck across the slot and using the defenseman as a screen, beat Falcons’ goalie Chris Truehl along the ice to the far side for a 2-0 lead at 6:49 of the period.

Shore’s second came with just under five minutes in the period when he deflected a LaLeggia shot past Truehl to make it 3-0.

As the Falcons’ Dan Weissenhofer took a five-minute major for hitting from behind, Shore and the Pioneers wasted no time on the power play with a beautiful tic-tac-toe passing play from LaLeggia to Danton Heinen and then across the crease to Shore, who completed his hat trick into the open net.

Shore’s three goals included a shorthanded tally, an even-strength goal and one on the power play consecutively in the middle stanza to blow the game open for Denver.

Trevor Moore, Will Butcher and Zac Larraza added goals to complete the rout for the Pioneers, who saw five specialty-team goals on the night, including four on the power play.

Cowley made 15 saves for his second shutout of the season.

The Pioneers host Wisconsin tomorrow night in the final game of a seven-game homestand, while Air Force looks to rebound at home against Colorado College.

“We know the style of play we want to bring,” said Montgomery. “It would be nice to close out the homestand with a win, but more important, to play our game.”