RMN Covers Mannino's Record Tying Night

(above) Chris Nutini is checked in an awkward position against the boards on Friday night

by Pat Rooney

It was not the victory itself that made the night one certain to be remembered in University of Denver hockey lore, though Pioneers fans surely were pleased to see the team return from its holiday hiatus with a strong all- around effort while playing without two of its top offensive standouts.

Facing an unheralded Sacred Heart team in the first round of the 16th Denver Cup did not generate the sort of electricity within Magness Arena that usually marks Western Collegiate Hockey Association games, yet those in attendance Friday can brag they saw Peter Mannino make history.

The senior goaltender recorded 26 saves in DU's 5-0 victory, notching the 13th shutout of his career to tie the program's all- time mark held by Gerry Powers. Mannino reached his lucky No. 13 in his 83rd game, matching a mark Powers achieved in 96 games.

Mannino likely will have an opportunity take sole possession of the record when the Pioneers aim for their 13th Denver Cup title tonight, against Dartmouth (7, FSN Rocky Mountain), though coach George Gwozdecky indicated freshman Marc Cheverie could make his first start, saying, "We haven't made a decision yet."

Dartmouth started the tournament with a 4-1 win against Northern Michigan.

"I've really gotten to talk to Gerry more this year," Mannino said. "He's a great guy with a lot of insight. He's still around and shows his support. Any record, you have top guys that have accomplished that. To be anywhere in that type of class is an honor."

Mannino needed to make only 11 saves while breezing through the first two periods, but Sacred Heart, also nicknamed the Pioneers, forced Mannino to earn his record by firing 15 shots in the final frame.

It was Mannino's fourth shutout this season, leaving him half a season to make a run at the single-season mark of seven that is shared by Powers and Adam Berkhoel.

"(The record) talks to longevity, it talks to consistency, it talks to effort," said Gwozdecky, whose team has won five consecutive games. "I think Peter would be the first one to give credit to his teammates for making the game easy for him. There is no question since his freshman year, Peter has continually shown that he is a factor in games for us."

Playing without Tyler Ruegsegger and Rhett Rakhshani, who have helped the United States win its first two games at the World Junior Championships in the Czech Republic, third-ranked DU received one goal and two assists from Brock Trotter and one goal and one assist apiece from Patrick Mullen and senior captain Andrew Thomas. Freshman John Ryder scored his first career goal at DU.

It was the second consecutive three-point effort for Trotter, who has scored eight points in the past three games. Mullen, who spent his first two seasons at DU as a forward, was moved back to right wing to help offset the absence of Ruegsegger and Rakhshani, and he responded with his second two-point performance in the past three games.

DU (15-4-0) also had to deal with travel delays for four regulars who did not reach campus until a few hours before the puck dropped.

"It's never fun losing those two guys, but the nice thing is, now we know we can just fill in for them," Thomas said. "We've always known that, but we actually proved it to ourselves."

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