Mannino Breaks DU All-Time Shutout Record

(above) Peter Mannino sets DU's all-time shutout record Friday night

From: Rocky Mountain News
by Paul Peterson

Peter Mannino jumped about as high as a man in goaltending equipment could as soon as the final horn sounded Friday night at John MacInnes Student Ice Arena.

The University of Denver goalie set a school shutout record with the 14th of his career in a 1-0 victory over Michigan Tech.

"Peter Mannino was the story of the game," DU coach George Gwozdecky said. "He's been a very solid goaltender in his career here. . . . I'm happy to see him get the record."

The win was an important one for the Pioneers. They moved into a second-place tie with idle North Dakota in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, both teams with 33 points.

For his part, Mannino credited his teammates for the record-setting win.

"Shutouts are a team effort, and this game was no different," the senior said. "I've been fortunate for four years to have great teammates. It's pretty amazing."

In a game where scoring chances were at a premium, the Pioneers got the only one they would need with just 13 seconds remaining in the second period.

With his team on a power play, freshman forward Dustin Jackson nudged a rebound shot past MTU's Michael-Lee Teslak.

Assisting on the goal were Kyle Ostrow and Patrick Mullen.

Tech coach Jamie Russell said both goalies were outstanding.

"I thought Mannino and Teslak were on their games," he said. "They didn't have to make a lot of saves, but there some tough ones in there."

With both teams emphasizing tight checking, there were few good scoring chances throughout.

The middle period was filled with penalties, a total of 16 minutes assessed.

The Huskies' best shot at scoring came midway through the third period, when forward Jon Kivisto hit the pipe and the puck dropped into the crease. But Mannino was able to clear the puck and preserve his fifth shutout this season.

"You could tell that Peter was locked in tonight," Gwozdecky said. "He was that way right from the very beginning.

He also got a little help from the goalie’s best friend. Tech got shots by Mannino twice in the second and third periods, but both times the puck banged off the post and stayed out of the net.

“There’s no question that every goaltender, especially the good ones, are known to have their three best friends (the two posts and the crossbar) with them at all times,” Gwozdecky said.

Mannino and Teslak each had 21 saves.

DU Battles Michigan Tech This Weekend

From: Rocky Mountain News
by Pat Rooney

(left) Michigan Tech just one of a handful of NCAA Division I hockey programs to house a Frappier Acceleration Skating Treadmill

One win, and talk of perennial late-season collapses and the bursting of NCAA tournament bubbles will be quieted.

Gaining three or even four points, though, will give the University of Denver hockey team something it has not had since its 2005 national championship run - momentum down the stretch.

DU begins a Western Collegiate Hockey Association series tonight at Michigan Tech with a little less pressure on its collective shoulders after recording a sweep at home last week against Alaska Anchorage.

The Pioneers begin the series ranked sixth in the PairWise rankings, making them a solid NCAA tournament prospect, and gaining results against the Huskies would allow DU to cement the No. 3 seed in the WCHA while gaining extra cushion in the PairWise heading into next week's final regular-season series against league-leading Colorado College.

"We're focused on playing our best hockey of the season right now," senior forward Tom May said. "We want to get some rhythm going heading into the playoffs. Hopefully, we can get a couple wins and build some confidence and get into that rhythm. We're still in pretty good shape, but it's always nice to have those couple of extra wins."

DU leads fourth-place Wisconsin by six points in the WCHA, but the Badgers end their conference schedule this weekend and cannot catch the Pioneers.

Minnesota State and St. Cloud State are in a fifth-place tie and trail DU by seven points, but those teams will be unable to catch the Pioneers if they lose once more or if DU earns at least two points this weekend.

But backing into the No. 3 seed in the WCHA is not what DU wants after limping into the postseason the past two years, only to suffer first-round losses at home in the league tournament.

"We have to remember what happened this past weekend and look forward to this weekend and nothing after that," DU captain Andrew Thomas said. "We got home ice and that is a perk, regardless of what has happened in past years."

Michigan Tech, jockeying for playoff position in the bottom half of the league, has won only two of its past 12 games (2-6-4). The Huskies, though, always are a tough draw at home, as evidenced by the win and tie they earned against CC one month ago.

"They really pack in the students in the town there," Thomas said. "They really rally around them. It is a lot different than a lot of the teams in the WCHA, but that is the beauty of the league. All the venues are different and they all have their own difficulties. It will be my last visit to Houghton and, hopefully, we'll put in a good effort."

MTU Coach Helps Son Recover From Infection

From: Inside College Hockey
by Jess Myers

(left) MTU coach Jamie Russell

Article originally appeared October 30, 2007

In October, Michigan Tech's head coach Jamie Russell's son contracted a life threatening bacterial infection that was attacking his kidneys.

With the nation’s top-ranked team, North Dakota, set to visit Houghton over that weekend. That routine was shattered, however, when the oldest of Russell’s three sons developed an illness and got progressively worse.

Ben Russell, 9, quickly went from being hospitalized in Houghton with a relatively routine viral infection to being flown to a Milwaukee hospital with a life-threatening bacterial infection that was attacking his kidneys. Jamie immediately left the team in the hands of assistants, Pat Mikesch, Chris Tok, and Randy McKay, and went to Milwaukee with wife, Linda, to be with their boy.

Ben’s condition had stabilized enough that Russell was able to return to Houghton in time for the Huskies’ game with the top-ranked Sioux. But upon arriving in the locker room, Russell found that the emotions of the week made it nearly impossible to talk. When the team returned to the room after pregame warm-ups, they found their coach had left this message on the chalkboard:

"I thought I knew what tough was. This past week, my nine-year-old introduced me to a whole new world of toughness and courage. I REALLY want to win tonight for Ben, who is going to try his best to listen to the game."

Aware of what was happening with Ben in a hospital 300 miles away, the message hit the players hard and let them know a special effort would be required on the ice.

“There was a feeling that ran through the room that we had to find a way to win that game not just for us or for the two points, but for coach and his family,” said goaltender Michael-Lee Teslak. “He’s a pretty intense guy, so when we saw tears in his eyes, there was a really intense feeling in the room that we had to put coach on our back.”

Russell asked his team to deliver 50 hits in the game, and 20 in the first period. In their 3-1 upset of the Sioux, the Huskies recorded 51 hits for the game, 25 of them in the first period.

“I’ve never heard our rink as loud as it was that night,” said Michigan Tech goalie Michael-Lee Teslak about Friday's 3-1 win over then top-ranked North Dakota.

After it was over, as Huskies captain Jimmy Kerr handed his coach the game puck, to be delivered to Ben’s room in that Milwaukee hospital. Russell was again rendered speechless, able only to say, “Thank you,” before emotions got the best of him. Assistant coaches addressed the media after the game that night as Russell succumbed to the combination of intense emotion and his inability to sleep or eat much for several days.

Later that night, Jamie called Ben and told him of the gift that was on its way to Milwaukee. According to Russell, the puck brought the first smile that they’d seen in several days to Ben’s face.

“It was pretty emotional for everyone,” said Russell Tuesday. “Ben’s been having blood drawn every four hours and he’s in considerable pain, but that moment when he got the game puck produced the biggest smile we’ve seen in a long time.”

His doctors have said that Ben will be on blood-thinning medication for at least six months, which means no hockey for him this winter. According to Jamie, that was the toughest disappointment his son has had to deal with since the illness set in.

Postscript: The last report we found was that Ben was recovering at home in Houghton.

Ruegsegger Earns Frequent Flier Miles Watching DU

From: Denver Post

Tyler Ruegsegger will miss his seventh and eighth consecutive games when the University of Denver plays Michigan Tech on Friday and Saturday in Houghton, Mich. Ruegsegger has a nagging abdominal and groin injury, but the sophomore from Lakewood is traveling with the team, paying his expenses. Ruegsegger paid his way on DU's trip to North Dakota two weeks ago.

"He's not close to playing," DU coach George Gwozdecky said of Ruegsegger, who has 10 goals and 10 assists in 24 games. "He's able to skate before and after practice but has not been cleared to practice."

The Pioneers have four regular-season games remaining, including two against Colorado College on March 7 and 8. Ruegsegger might not play until the WCHA playoffs, which begin March 14.

WCHA Playoff Tickets Go On Sale Today

Tickets for DU's WCHA first round playoff series March 14-16 go on sale Thursday, Feb. 28 at 10 a.m. Tickets for the best 2-of-3 series can be purchased at the Ritchie Center Box Office, online at or by calling (303) 871-2336. Tickets start as low as $18 for adults and $10 for children under 12 and senior citizens.

CHN Looks At DU's Tournament Prospects

From: College Hockey News
by Adam Woden

College Hockey News ran an article on the various Pairwise scenarios that determine which teams get invited to the NCAA Tournament. The general consensus is that DU is not a lock to end up in the Colorado Springs Regional unless they can secure a #1 seed.
"Colorado College hosting the West Regional in their home arena, so you know where they're going to be. That it will be as the No. 1 seed is looking increasingly likely. Depending on where things fall, Denver could line up in that bracket as well. The committee, judging by recent experience, would not put Denver in that bracket just because it wants to boost attendance. First of all, CC will take care of that enough. But second of all, the committee just doesn't worry about that anymore. So it would only happen if CC is No. 3 and Denver No. 6, or 2-7, or 4-5, etc... HOWEVER, if CC drops and Denver is a No. 1 seed, then most likely, Denver would be the No. 1 seed in the West Regional. And since CC HAS to be in the West Regional, those two would end up in the same bracket after all." (read the rest of the article)

DU Alum Goes From Supermarket To NHL

(above) DU Alum Connor James is congratulated by teammates after scoring his first NHL goal

Video of Connor's First NHL Goal

From: Pittsburgh Post Gazette
by Dave Molinari

DU Alum Connor James scored his first NHL goal last night for the Pittsburgh Penguins after being called up from the AHL earlier in the day. His goal made it 4-1 Pittsburgh, with 3:02 left in the game.

The Penguins had summoned forwards Connor James and Nathan Smith from their minor-league team in Wilkes-Barre so they could field a 20-man lineup, but those two did not arrive until the middle of the second period.

Mind you, it was worth the trip for James, who scored his first career NHL goal just hours after getting his promotion to the NHL over a supermarket intercom.

Turns out his cell phone had broken earlier in the day and James, just back in northeast Pennsylvania after a brief stint with the Penguins, was grocery shopping when the team got word he was being recalled.

He was checking out steaks when Baby Penguins coach Todd Richards contacted the store and had James paged on the public-address system so he could tell him that he had 20 minutes to get ready for a trip to Long Island.

"It was kind of weird," James said.

Yeah, just a bit.

James and Smith were driven to the game by Baby Penguins executive Jeff Barrett but, because of heavy traffic and foul weather, didn't reach the arena until the first intermission, and did not make it onto the ice until the game was half over.

The Penguins defeated the New York Islanders, 4-2.

LetsGoDU Sponsors Pick-Up Hockey Game

Beautiful Magness Arena, home of the seven time National Champion Denver Pioneers, will play host to the Posters Hockey Game on Saturday, April 12th @ 1:15 PM.

This annual hockey extravaganza during the Frozen Four, combines computer geeks and obnoxious college fans in a casual pick-up hockey game. Once again bragging rights will be on the line as "players" from all over the nation match wits and skill.

For more information, registration and answers to all questions go to the Posters Game Thread on USCHO.

The NCAA National Championship game will be at 5 PM at the Pepsi Center two hours after the game. Both Magness Arena and the Pepsi Center are on Denver's light rail, within easy access of both arenas.

LetsGoDU and several University of Denver Alums contributed funds to offset the ice time at Magness Arena. Players may purchase a T-shirt as a memento of the historic occasion. Spectators and volunteers are welcome. Lauches First DU Podcast

PioneerCast hosted by Conor McGahey was launched today on Click on the PioneerCast tab and listen on demand.

McGahey was hired as the full-time voice of Magness Arena at 21 years of age. He works all DU hockey, men's basketball and men's lacrosse home games. He also makes appearances doing play-by-play for University of Denver webcasts.

The first podcast featured news and notes about the hockey team, upcoming series with Michigan Tech as well as features on DU Lacrosse, basketball and general DU news. It was very well produced and even gave a shout out to LetsGoDU, citing our coverage of incoming DU hockey recruits.

Check it out.

Site Publishes 133 Photos Of DU-UAA Game

(above) Tom May is just one on many players featured on svictoria29's slideshow from last Friday night's DU vs. UAA game
Photo Credit: svictoria29

DU Student Reporter Visits Engelstad Arena

From: DU Clarion Student Newspaper
by Alex Gallegos

GRAND FORKS, N.D.- "The latest weather in Fargo this morning is a chilly zero degrees," said the pilot as we were nearing our arrival into North Dakota. Zero degrees I shouted to myself inside my head. This California boy turned more into a popsicle than a sports reporter walking across the parking lot towards the rental car.

Just about the time my fingers finally defrosted I had completed my hour drive from Fargo to Grand Forks and was standing bundled outside what looked like a palace. A brick palace at that, with white domes and a sign out front that read: Ralph Engelstad Arena.

The 400,000 square-foot complex is home to the University of North Dakota men and women's hockey programs.

"Probably like everyone else who has walked in here, you are very impressed with the facility. I have no doubt that it is the finest hockey venue in the country, college, pro, you name it," said DU Head Coach George Gwozdecky.

As I open the door I walk onto the glowing brown granite floor and look into the eyes of the Fighting Sioux logo engraved on the floor. Straight ahead is the team shop inside of a green fence that is buzzing with excitement as fans begin to fill the 11,640 seat arena.

As I watch the fans begin to file in, they are all wearing the team color of green. When I say they all are, I am not lying; their merchandise sales have to be through the roof as every fan is wearing Sioux paraphernalia of some kind.

I walk around the concourse and quickly the smell of kettle corn, churros, pizza and other goddies fill my nose. As I keep walking I look to one side of the wall to see plaques of every All-American in UND history, another wall features a picture of every team to don a Sioux uniform. On the upper concourse are more plaques, jerseys and pictures commemorating North Dakota history.

The palace contains 2,200 Sioux logos and over 300 televisions including a state-of-the-art big screen hanging over center ice.

"I think the money kind of testifies to it, but it is by far one of the nicest arenas that I have been in and probably will ever play in," said senior defenseman Andrew Thomas.

It is a world-class facility and more courtesy of Mr. Ralph Engelstad who was originally going to donate $100 million dollars towards UND as a whole, but after the faculty and staff upset him he decided to donate it all towards building a new athletic facility. The Ralph cost over $104 million dollars to build and that was not all the Engelstad family donated. The Betty Engelstad arena is the home to the UND basketball and volleyball programs at a measly cost of $7 million.

Ralph was a hockey player for the Sioux from 1948 to 1950 and then made his fortune as a construction mogel.

To say the least when it comes to recruiting, UND has quite a jewel to help convince the top prospects to attend school and play hockey in Grand Forks.

"I came here and thought it was amazing and never thought I would play here even when they did offer me because I came from such a small high school," said Sioux sophomore T.J. Oshie. "Actually what sold me was the stick room, I went into the stick room and saw hundreds and hundreds of sticks. I got pretty pumped about that."

And as I went to sit in my seat in the press box all I could do was just stare. Stare at the two bars that overlook either end of the arena on the upper concourse. Stare at the leather seats and Olympic size rink.

Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith, Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick are among a few of the big name performers that have appeared at the Ralph.

It is a palace. It is a hockey rink. It is the home of the Fighting Sioux. Most of all it is simply the best of the best.

Mannino Back On Track For Stretch Drive

(above) Peter Mannino has DU's "back" down the stretch
Photo Credit: svictoria29

From: Rocky Mountain News
by Pat Rooney

While collecting the two wins was crucial, the fact that University of Denver goaltender Peter Mannino seems to have regained his swagger at home ultimately might be more critical to the Pioneers' postseason aspirations.

Against Alaska-Anchorage, Mannino moved into a fourth- place tie on DU's all-time wins list, posting his 57th and 58th victories. And he is unbeaten in his past four games at Magness Arena, erasing some of the sting of a midseason slide that dropped the senior from early Hobey Baker Award consideration.

"We've all been through some things and we hit a tough patch at the halfway point," Mannino said. "The team played well in front of me, and when they play well, it's an easy game. We're comfortable at home."

That bodes well for a team that clinched home ice for the first round of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs, but it might not bode so well later this week when DU travels to Michigan Tech.

The Pioneers surrendered at least four goals in four of the five games it has dropped in its current road losing streak, yet turning things around against the Huskies would provide the Pioneers with a little more comfort in the NCAA tournament picture heading into the home-and-home series against Colorado College that closes the regular season.

"He still came up with a couple of beauties both nights but both nights we were able to get a lead for him going into the third period," Pioneers coach George Gwozdecky said. "For any goaltender, that is huge. For Peter . . . I don't think there's any better money goaltender than Peter."

DU To Spend The Night In "Titletown USA"

Today Pat Rooney in the Rocky Mountain News details a new tactic in in overcoming the long road trip to Michigan Tech next weekend. You may recall that last week, the University of Alaska-Anchorage left a day early when traveling to Denver.
The trip to Michigan Tech in the Upper Peninsula always is the most demanding journey of DU's season.

This year, the Pioneers are altering their travel schedule in hopes of being better prepared for the series opener Friday.

DU will leave Wednesday and stay overnight in Green Bay, Wis., before taking a bus to Houghton, Mich., in order to practice there Thursday afternoon. In years past, the all-day journey to Houghton on Thursday prevented DU from getting ice time before the series.

"It's pretty tiring, it's pretty exhausting," Gwozdecky said. "We want to leave a few hours earlier so we're prepared for bad weather, and we get a chance to skate and practice up there."

DU News & Notes

Tyler Bozak has five short handed goals tying him for the NCAA lead with CC's Chad Rau. DU leads the nation in shorthanded goals with 10.

DU recruit Joe Colborne is the second leading scorer in the Alberta Junior Hockey League with 90 points in 54 games. Fellow DU recruit Shawn Ostrow is 20th in the league in scoring. Ostrow is the leading rookie scorer in the AJHL.

Former DU player Gabe Gauthier scored with less than 8 seconds left on Saturday night to force overtime, as the AHL Manchester Monarchs defeated the Norfork Admirals in a shootout.

DU recruit Matt Donovan scored a goal this weekend and remains in second place in the USHL in +/- with +24. Donovan is also fifth in the USHL in defenseman scoring.

DU will clinch third place in the WCHA if Minnesota State and St. Cloud State lose any of their remaining four games or DU wins one of its remaining four games.

On Friday night former DU player Paul Stastny scored a goal for the NHL Colorado Avalanche in his first game back after missing five weeks with Appendicitis and a groin injury.

This Week's Polls & Rankings

DU remains at #6 in College Hockey News' Pairwise Rankings

DU fell to 6th in the College Hockey News' KRACH Rankings

DU is back on top in the LetsGoDU SuperPoll®

DU remains at #7 in the INCH Power Rankings

DU moves up a spot to #7 in the USCHO Poll

DU moves up to #7 in the USA Today Poll

LetsGoDU Top 10 SuperPoll®

1). Denver - Nothing like a little Seawolf Cupcake to cure the panic attacks
2). North Dakota - The Bullies from Possum Hollow look to steamroll UMD
3). New Hampshire - Did we mention they swept CC this season?
4). Michigan - They can beat everybody except Michigan State
5). Miami - Hard to figure
6). Minnesota State - Who'd a thunk it?
7). Michigan State - They should be tough in the Tourney
8). St. Cloud - Better late than never to make a run
9). Boston College - Finally won a Beanpot, lost a Hockey East title
Last). Colorado College - 1957

This Week In Mike Chamber's Blog

Our favorite college hockey scribe lets his guard down and talks about hockey, his son and the character of the players he covers. He also plugs the Denver Post's "Youth Hockey Section" which is included in today's Sunday paper.

WCHA Standings

Team Pts. WCHA Overall
Colorado College 37 18-5-1 23-8-1
North Dakota 33 16-7-1 20-8-2
Denver 31 15-8-1 21-10-1
Wisconsin 25 10-11-5 14-13-7
Minnesota State 24 10-10-4 16-11-4
St. Cloud State 24 11-11-2 16-13-3
Minnesota Duluth 21 8-11-5 12-12-6
Minnesota 20 7-11-6 13-13-8
Michigan Tech 18 7-13-4 11-16-5
Alaska Anchorage 11 3-18-5 7-18-7

How Sweep It Is - DU Takes 4 Points From UAA

From Candace Horgan at USCHO

DENVER (Feb. 23) — One week after an emotionally devastating sweep at the hands of the North Dakota Fighting Sioux, the No. 8 Denver Pioneers came out with a strong team effort and swept the Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves, clinching home ice for the WCHA playoffs with a 3-1 win in front of 6,031 fans at Magness Arena.
“One of the things we try to do every year is get home ice for the playoffs,” said Pioneers’ coach George Gwozdecky. “We still have a ways to go though. I think it was a good step forward for us, to get two almost must wins, and I’m really pleased and proud with how our team responded.”

The Seawolves came out strong, looking to establish momentum early and get the Pioneers in a more defensive position. The Seawolves got the first power play of the game, though they couldn’t convert, and held the Pioneers without a shot for the first five minutes.

The Pioneers didn’t get any shots until they went on a power play, and, like Friday night, the special teams quickly capitalized. The Pioneers cycled the puck well and got off several good shots. Patrick Mullen made a great play to keep the puck in the zone, outracing a Seawolves’ player to a puck near the blue line, and moments later Mullen fired a shot on net that handcuffed Seawolves’ goalie Jon Olthuis. Olthuis gave up a rebound and couldn’t get back to his feet before Rhett Rakhshani crashed the net, picked up the rebound and fired it in at the 6:00 minute mark of the period.

“I think that was pretty big,” said Rakhshani. “It’s always pretty big to get the first goal of the game just for momentum. They were coming pretty hard and the momentum kind of shifted after that.”

Buoyed by the goal, Denver started to carry the play more, but were unable to build on their lead. When the Seawolves did generate an offensive chance, they seemed determined to crash Mannino as often as possible, knocking him after the whistle and drawing the ire of the Pioneers’ defensemen.

Defenseman J.P. Testwuide put the Pioneers up 2-0 at 7:58 of the second. With the Pioneers forechecking strongly, Dustin Jackson carried the puck through the high slot and passed it to Testwuide at the right point, who one-timed a slap shot high glove side past a screened Olthuis. The puck appeared to hit the Seawolves’ Mat Robinson on the way in.

The Seawolves finally got on the board at 11:39 when Tommy Grant picked up a rebound of a Jared Tuton shot low in the right circle, took a step towards the net, and slid it past Mannino’s right pad into the far corner.

“You measure out the quality scoring chances, they’re even,” said Seawolves’ coach Dave Shyiak. “I thought we had chances, but it’s been our story all year long, not converting or capitalizing. I thought there were plays to be made.”

A late goal by Matt Glasser gave the Pioneers the two-goal lead going into the third. Glasser took a pass from Brian Gifford near the red line and put on a burst of speed to get by a diving Shane Lovdahl at the blue line, looked off for a pass through the slot to Chris Butler, then fired a shot five-hole past Olthuis at 18:12.

“It was a great play by Brian there to get the puck to me,” said Glasser. “I think I lost it at the blue line to tell you the truth. I thought they were going to catch up to me, and then going in, me and Butler, I was thinking pass the whole time until the last second, and just decided to shoot it.”

“That goal tonight was huge,” said Gwozdecky of Glasser’s play. “He looked off the goaltender and defenseman real well. Chris Butler jumped up in the play and activated it and forced that defenseman to back off. Matt made a great shot. At that point, prior to the goal, they definitely had some momentum going in their favor, and to get us that two-goal cushion was huge.”

Olthuis managed to keep the Seawolves within two moments later when he stopped Anthony Maiani on a breakaway.

Both teams had some good chances in the third period, but the goaltenders played strong. Olthuis robbed Brandon Vossberg from point-blank range on back-to-back shots, while Mannino stood tall in the final few minutes and controlled his rebounds, preventing the Seawolves from getting closer.

“I think we can really just be more concerned with our play and improving certain areas that all teams need to do at this time of year, and getting the proper rest,” said Gwozdecky.

New WCHA Blog Has "Most Excellent" Potential

We've seen many college hockey blogs come and go in the past few years, but a new blog debuted this week has the potential to rise above the crowded WCHA Blogisphere. WCHA Hockey: Who's Whining Now promises to be devoted to "the constant whining that comes from the WCHA commissioner, fans, coaches and players."

The fact that Who's Whining Now named our own Coach Gwozdecky and the DU fanbase as their first "Whiner Of The Week," just adds to their "street cred."

UAA Are Much Better Saturday Night Road Team

(left) UAA are the WCHA road warriors

One of the harsh realities of playing in the WCHA for the University of Alaska Anchorage is the brutal travel schedule. A direct flight from Anchorage to Denver takes 5 hours. That's the same time for a flight from Los Angeles to NYC. If UAA has to connect through Seattle the trip can become an 11 hour ordeal and that's if everything goes on time.

UAA has never had a winning record since they've joined the WCHA in 1993 and their road record has been even more dismal. However, they have traditionally played much better on Saturday nights on the road.

Twice UAA had defeated DU in Magness Arena in recent years and both victories were on Saturday nights. UAA is 2-1-0 in their last three Saturday night games in Magness Arena.

Over the past five seasons UAA has posted the following records on the road.

Friday: 1-6-1
Saturday: 2-4-2

Friday: 3-4-1
Saturday: 1-6-1

Friday: 0-8-1
Saturday: 1-6-2*

Friday: 1-8-2
Saturday: 5-4-2

Friday: 2-7-0
Saturday: 2-5-2*

* Road Victories over DU in Magness Arena

Brown University Hockey Player Joins Bad Boyz

From: The Brown Daily Herald
by Max Mankin

(left) Harry Zolnierczyk

Harrison Zolnierczyk, a Freshman forward on the men's ice hockey team, is facing charges in Canada in connection with accusations that he produced, recorded and distributed a pornographic video involving a teenage girl on YouTube, the Providence Journal and Canwest News Service, a Canadian wire service, have reported.

In a written statement, the University said Zolnierczyk will not participate on the men's hockey team this season. He will remain enrolled at the University, the statement said.

Zolnierczyk has "been forced to withdraw from the hockey team, the team he loves playing on," his Vancouver-based lawyer, Richard Fowler, told The Herald.

Zolnierczyk last played in a game against St. Lawrence University on Feb. 16 at Meehan Auditorium. He has appeared in 16 games this season.

He is facing charges of voyeurism and production, possession and distribution of child pornography in Port Alberni Provincial Court in British Columbia, Canwest News Service reported.

"He is presumed innocent, and they're merely allegations," Fowler told The Herald. "He's a great student, and people should rally around to support him. He doesn't pose a risk to anybody."

"Harry is an extremely good young man," Fowler continued. "Otherwise he would have never (been) admitted to that university, and the charges do not in any way take away from that, and people should give him the benefit of the doubt."

Zolnierczyk will appear before a judge on March 13 to enter a plea for the alleged fall 2006 creation of the tape, according to Canwest.

Bradley Harding, Zolnierczyk's co-accused and former teammate on the Alberni Valley Bulldogs, has entered a guilty plea to two voyeurism charges and is awaiting sentencing, the Journal reported Thursday.

Zolnierczyk and officials from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police could not immediately be reached for comment.

Cpl. Rob Foster of the Mounted Police told the Journal that the Canadian legal system does not distinguish between felonies and misdemeanors as the American system does, but that the charges potentially carry jail time.

DU's Two Shorties Propel Them Past UAA 4-2

Tyler Bozak scored a short-handed goal and and assisted on Chris Butler's short-handed goal last night.

From DU website

The No. 8 Denver Pioneers (20-10-1, 14-8-1 WCHA) recorded three special team goals in the second period en route to a 4-2 victory over the University of Alaska Anchorage (7-17-7, 3-17-5 WCHA) tonight in front of 6,033 fans at Magness Arena.

Rhett Rakhshani (Huntington Beach, Calif.) notched a power-play goal, while Chris Butler (St. Louis, Mo.) and Tyler Bozak (Regina, Saskatchewan) each added a short-handed tally in the second period to give DU a three-goal cushion. Senior netminder Peter Mannino (Farmington Hills, Mich.) stopped 24-of-26 shots to get the win.

The victory marked the seventh consecutive season DU has recorded at least 20 wins, while the Pioneers also improved to 13-3-1 at Magness Arena this year.

“I think everyone realized how big this game was for us,” Denver head coach George Gwozdecky said. “Our second period was huge, with the two short-handed goals and the power-play goal. We really needed that type of effort from our special teams.”

Each team scored on a point shot in the first period, with Kane Lafranchise striking for the Seawolves with a power-play goal at 10:15 and Patrick Mullen (Pittsburgh, Pa.) responding 48 seconds later with his fourth goal of the season. Mullen one-timed the rebound of a blocked Zach Blom (Englewood, Colo.) attempt and beat Seawolves netminder Jon Olthuis (30 saves) high to the glove side at 11:03.

Rakhshani gave DU a lead with his power-play goal from the left faceoff circle 1:04 into the second period before the Pioneers notched a pair of short-handed goals to take a 4-1 lead.

First, Butler deposited a feed from Kyle Ostrow (Calgary, Alberta) during a 2-on-1 break at 11:06, while Bozak then notched his fifth short-handed goal of the season off a feed from Jesse Martin (Edmonton, Alberta) on a nearly identical play at 18:40.

Luke Beaverson added a goal for UAA with 4:05 remaining to round out the scoring.

DU outshot UAA by a 34-26 margin and went 1-for-8 on the power play. The Seawolves finished 1-for-7 with the man-advantage.

Notes: DU ranks sixth in the latest PairWise Rankings...The Pioneers now rank first nationally with 10 short-handed goals...Bozak is tied for the national lead with five short-handed tallies...Stephen Cunningham (Boulder, Colo.) picked up his first collegiate point with an assist on Mullen’s first-period tally...DU has won all three match-ups against UAA this season...Mannino set a single-season career-high with his 19th victory of the year tonight...The netminder had 18 wins during his freshman campaign...DU has registered at least one power-play goal in 10 of its last 13 games...The Pioneers are 8-3 against unranked opponents this season.

DU's Casualty List For The UAA Series

* Brandon Vossberg out Friday night via suspension

* J.P. Testwuide out Friday night via suspension

* Julian Marcuzzi may play after missing last Saturday's game

* Cody Brookwell may miss the UAA series with the flu

* Tyler Ruegsegger out for at least 3-4 weeks with an abdominal strain

* John Ryder out for season with a hand injury

* Brock Trotter out forever

WCHA Commish Meets With NHL On Defections

From: Inside College
by Jess Myers

Anyone hoping for a wide-ranging pledge from the NHL that the mid-season signings would stop is likely disappointed with the results of the recent meetings between pro hockey officials and three college hockey commissioners. But WCHA head man Bruce McLeod, who met with a key group of NHL general mangers in Florida this week, and who admits the college officials took a "pretty softball approach" to the topics at hand, came away satisfied that they'd taken a positive step.

"Our presentation was more to put a face on college hockey and explain who we are," said McLeod, who was accompanied by Hockey East's Joe Bertagna and the CCHA's Tom Anastos at the meetings. He said a big part of the college presentation was to stress the education aspect of college hockey, which does not exist for pro prospects in Europe or in major junior. A big concern about mid-season signings of college players is how their departures negatively affect the school's graduation rates.

"That's our issue," McLeod said. "We did bring up mid-season signings, but more just for information purposes. We're not yet to the point of asking what we could do about it."

McLeod added that it was heartening to look across the room and see so many ex-collegians in powerful positions with NHL teams. For Minnesota Duluth's former athletic director, seeing one of his former student-athletes (Brett Hull) running a NHL team now was particularly satisfying. There are sure to be future meetings between the NHL and college hockey leaders, and more discussion of mid-season signings and other issues like how a pro team should communicate with its drafted collegians during the season.

While far from solving all of the world's problems, McLeod said there was more than just good weather to like in Florida.

"This sent a real strong signal to the college hockey community that they are serious about these issues and we are important to the NHL," McLeod said, adding that the commissioners are working on a document that they hope to present to NHL leaders in June, and have language added to the current collective bargaining agreement. "We're not just a cheap deliver system for good players."

David Carle Talks About Committing To DU

From: Anchorage Daily News
by Doyle Woody

Patience and poise are hallmarks among David Carle's coveted hockey skills, and they came in handy in picking a college -- the defenseman waited until halfway through his senior year of high school to pull the trigger.

Carle, 18, of Anchorage, on Thursday confirmed he has given an oral commitment to begin playing next fall at the University of Denver.

The blue-chip blueliner who skates at Shattuck-St. Mary's, a prep school in Faribault, Minn., renowned for developing elite players, said he narrowed his choices to Denver and St. Cloud State. He informed Pioneer coaches of his decision Wednesday night.

"There's the history of the program -- there's a lot there,'' Carle said by cell phone Thursday night. "And there are opportunities with academics. There's a lot of positives in Denver, a lot of upsides.''

And although comparisons no doubt will be legion, David Carle said his choice had little to do with the Denver experience of his older brother, Matt, the San Jose Sharks defenseman. Matt Carle, 23, helped the Pioneers to two national titles (2004, 2005) and as a junior in 2006 won the Hobey Baker Memorial Award as college hockey's best player before stepping directly into the NHL.

"Initially, he talked to me a little about it,'' said David, who plans to study business. "But he stayed out of it -- obviously, he's biased. The more the (recruiting) process went along, (Matt's time at Denver) was a non-factor.

"I made the choice for myself. I was going to make sure I was going to make the right decision.''

Similarities between big and little brother abound. Both are effortless skaters who shoot left-handed, possess offensive skills, left home at 15 to pursue their rink dreams and attracted NHL attention as teenagers. Of course, Matt has said he thinks David skates a little better than he did at the same age.

David has played the last three seasons at Shattuck after playing his freshman season at South High and for the Alaska All-Stars. In 43 games at Shattuck this season, Carle has produced eight goals and 26 assists for 34 points.

"I've really grown up here at Shattuck,'' David said. "Shattuck, and the whole way it works and functions, deserves a lot of the credit.''

David said he visited Denver, St. Cloud, Boston University, Boston College and Michigan State, and those schools became his five finalists. BU stayed in the mix until he narrowed his choices to Denver and St. Cloud.

At Denver, Carle will eventually be teammates with two other players from Anchorage. Goaltender Adam Murray and defenseman William Wrenn, both 16 and both of whom play in USA Hockey's prestigious National Team Development Program, have committed to join the Pioneers in 2010.

The NHL's Central Scouting Service in its mid-term rankings released a month ago ranked Carle 74th among 210 North American skaters rated for next summer's draft. That makes him a virtual lock to be the second Carle drafted. The Sharks selected Matt Carle in the second round, 47th overall, in 2003, when he was 66th among North Americans in Central Scouting's final rankings.

Like his brother before him, David Carle said he isn't putting too much stock in the rankings.

"It's exciting, but I don't pay much attention, to be honest,'' he said. "It's definitely an honor. You just take care of your business, and things will take care of themselves.''

DU Recruiting Classes

F Nate Dewhurst (Des Moines, USHL)
F Joe Colborne (Camrose, AJHL)
D John Lee (Waterloo, USHL)
F Stepan Novotny (Indiana, USHL)
D David Carle (Shattuck-St Mary's HS)

D William Wrenn (U.S. Under-17)
D Matt Donovan (Cedar Rapids, USHL)
D Paul Phillips (Cedar Rapids, USHL)
G Adam Murray (U.S. under-17)
F Drew Shore (U.S. Under-17)
F Shawn Ostrow (Camose, AJHL)*

*Could be either a 2009 or 2010 recruit

Rocky Mountain News Looks At Weekend Series

From: Rocky Mountain News
by Pat Rooney

(left) DU welcomes the University of Alaska-Anchorage to Magness Arena this weekend for a two game series

If ever there was a weekend in which the University of Denver hockey team seemingly could successfully weather severe manpower issues, this would be it.

But that is precisely the type of thinking that can drag struggling teams deeper into the mire, and it is a trap the Pioneers will attempt to avoid tonight and Saturday.

DU begins a Western Collegiate Hockey Association series tonight against last-place Alaska Anchorage at Magness Arena, and the Pioneers will hit the ice without three regulars in their lineup and possibly a fourth. That list does not include former leading scorer Brock Trotter, who left the program more than three weeks ago to sign a pro contract.

"We could put ourselves in real good shape if we put a good foot forward (today) and Saturday," senior captain Andrew Thomas said. "If we don't, if we come out with a lackadaisical effort, we can make things really tough for us coming down the stretch. We pride ourselves in the WCHA as being the strongest conference in the country. They're not going to be a pushover. They're still fighting for a better playoff position, and so are we."

The Pioneers have lost six of nine, severely crippling their chances to win the WCHA regular-season crown and nudging them further down the all-important PairWise rankings.

DU will attempt to get well this weekend without third-leading scorer Tyler Ruegsegger, who will miss his third consecutive series because of an abdominal injury, and possibly without sophomore defenseman Cody Brookwell, who has battled the flu all week.

Tonight, the Pioneers also will be without defenseman J.P. Testwuide and forward Brandon Vossberg, who will serve one-game suspensions for their actions during DU's fracas with North Dakota on Saturday. Vossberg needed four stitches above his left eye but, like Testwuide, is expected to return for the series finale Saturday.

"Brandon and J.P have played almost every single game for us this year, so when you take two regulars out of the lineup, it certainly makes it a little more of a challenge for everybody else," DU coach George Gwozdecky said. "We know certain areas of the game we weren't very good in last week, and we've worked hard at it this week. We'll be excited and prepared to play (tonight) and we'll go from there."

DU begins the weekend ranked sixth in the PairWise and anything short of four points against a Seawolves team that is winless in its past five games and has lost six consecutive road games ultimately might derail the Pioneers' chances of landing an NCAA tournament berth.

"We've talked since Christmas about the importance of every weekend, but it's really coming down to this weekend," Thomas said.

DU Hockey Legends - Rich Preston

From Calgary Flames website, Legends of Hockey website, DU Media Guide

Rich “Sarge” Preston played one season of junior hockey with the Regina Pats of the SJHL before heading south to attend the University of Denver. There, he excelled as an offensively productive forward for four seasons, graduating in 1974. Sarge played 127 games at DU scoring 34 goals and 62 assists for 108 points. He played in three straight NCAA tourneys from 1971 through 1973. In his four seasons at DU, the team finished 2nd, 1st, 1st and 3rd in the WCHA. Although Rich was never selected as an All American he played with five All Americans at DU including Mike Christie, Vic Venasky, Tom Peluso, Ron Grahame and Rob Palmer.

As property of the Chicago Blackhawks, Preston was promptly informed that he'd be starting out his pro career in Texas with their minor-league affiliate in Dallas. He and Terry Ruskowski did head to the Lone Star State, but not to join the Hawks. Instead, they jumped to the WHA's Houston Aeros where the prospect of playing with Gordie Howe looked more rewarding than toiling in the minors.

So Preston launched a successful four-year stint in Houston where he developed into an outstanding two-way player who, as he put himself, was a jack-of-all-trades and master of none. At least, until he joined the Winnipeg Jets for the WHA's final season in 1978-79. During the playoffs, Preston was stellar, being voted as the MVP of the tournament. His Jets won the last Avco Cup ever awarded.

After weathering a contractual dispute between the Blackhawks and Jets as the two leagues merged, Preston landed on his blades in the Windy City, thanks in part to his friendship with Keith Magnuson and Cliff Koroll from their University of Denver days.

In his first season, Preston leapt from the starting gate, corralling 31 goals and 30 assists, his best single-season NHL result. In all, he put in five solid years with the Hawks before jumping to the New Jersey Devils for two seasons.

In 1986-87, he re-signed as a free agent with the Hawks where he played 77 games and then retired. Preston played in eight NHL seasons from 1979-87 collecting 291 points (127 goals, 164 assists) in 580 games.

Preston began his coaching career with the Chicago Blackhawks during the 1991-92 campaign and spent four seasons with the team. He worked as an Assistant Coach to Mike Keenan during the 1991-92 season, and to Darryl Sutter from 1992-95.

Prior to coaching with Calgary and San Jose, Preston spent two seasons (1995-96 and 1996-97) as Head Coach of his hometown, Regina Pats of the WHL. During this period the Pats compiled a 79-60-5 record. With 42 wins registered in the 1996-97 season, the Pats managed their first 40 win season in 11 years and also established a new team record 27 home game undefeated streak.
With the San Jose Sharks (2000-02) as an Assistant Coach under Head Coach Darryl Sutter, Preston also saw his team improve its point totals each year.

On June 26, 2003, Rich Preston rejoined the Flames organization as Assistant Coach. The Regina, SK native was previously with the Flames organization, along with Head Coach Brian Sutter, from 1997-2000 and helped the Flames increase its point totals in each of those seasons.

Preston and his wife Laura have three boys, Troy, Lucas and Thomas and reside in Calgary. Launches New Website Today

A new website is being launched today called They plan on becoming the #1 DU fan site on the internet. They will have news, forums, and an audio component called PioneerCast, a podcast dedicated mainly to DU hockey that will hosted and produced by Conor McGahey.

LetsGoDU will be working closely with to share content, link interviews and pool resources. Check them out and provide feedback in the comments section below.

The site has actually been created and run by Envie Media, a Denver-based Web development company which is owned and operated by DU Alumni.

Chamber's Blog Interviews Vossberg & Ruegsegger

Mike Chamber's Blog has three excellent articles today.

He interviewed Brandon Vossberg and went over the "Assault At Possum Hollow." Naturally the Possum Hollow Perry Mason Brigade were the first to comment.

Chambers interviewed Tyler Ruegsegger who stated that the injury is more than an abdominal strain, that he’s experiencing pain in his pelvis and groin. He had an MRI on Tuesday and CT scan Wednesday, and said both tests proved there is not a tear, but some tendonitis.

Finally he covered the sanctions handed down by the WCHA and Coach Gwozdecky's reaction. Needless to say, the coach doesn't sound too pleased with his boyz pugilistic endeavours over the weekend.

Denver Native Earns Scholarship At UNH

Western College Hockey Blog is reporting that Denver native Brett Kostolansky has committed to the University of New Hampshire in 2009. Kostolansky is a teammate of future Pioneer David Carle, plays defense for Shattuck-St. Mary's.

Kostolansky will spend next season with the Chicago Steel in the USHL.

Testwuide Cops WCHA Suspension For Fight

UND's Kyle Radke and Denver's J.P. Testwuide exchange blows in the middle of the second period Saturday in Grand Forks
Photo Credit: John Stennes, GF Herald

From: Grand Forks Herald
by Brad Schlossman

The WCHA handed Pioneer defenseman J.P. Testwuide a one-game suspension for his role in a fight during the UND game Satuday night. UND senior forward Kyle Radke won't play this weekend against Bemidji State. The Western Collegiate Hockey Association also slapped another game onto Radke's suspension Tuesday, which means he has to sit two games because of a pair of incidents in the same game.

Radke and Testwuide dropped their gloves and began to fight near the Denver net at the 6:38 mark of the second period Saturday. The assistant referees jumped in quickly to break up the scuffle right as fists began to fly.

Both players were given double-minors and a 10-minute misconduct.

WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod said that referee Marco Hunt “under-called” the incident and should have given the players game disqualifications, meaning an ejecting and automatic one-game suspension.

That's why the league, which has the ability to add supplementary discipline, decided both should have to sit out one game for that incident.

For Radke, it means he will have to miss two games, because he earned a game disqualification later on for a fight at the end of the second period.

As the teams went to their locker rooms, Sioux defenseman Joe Finley and Denver forward Rhett Rakhshani collided as they crossed paths near the benches. Pioneer goaltender Peter Mannino then punched Finley in the head with his glove, causing a scrum to break out.

Radke, hearing the commotion from the tunnel, sprinted back onto the ice and locked up with Pioneer forward Brandon Vossberg.

Radke proceeded to take down and bloody the Denver sophomore. Both players were given game disqualifications for that incident, which means they are automatically suspended for one game.

The Pioneers will be without both Testwuide and Vossberg for Friday's home game against Alaska-Anchorage. Radke will be out until the Sioux travel to Minnesota-Duluth next weekend.

“The guidelines call for the players to sit out the next regularly scheduled NCAA game,” McLeod said of the supplementary discipline. “It doesn't matter whether it's a conference game or not.”

McLeod said that the incident between Radke and Testwuide is not considered a game disqualification, though. So if Testuwuide gets another disqualification later this year, it will be considered his first, not second.
For those of you keeping score at home:

* Testwuide out Friday night

* Vossberg out Friday night

* No word on Marcuzzi who missed Saturday night with a concussion

* Ruegsegger out for at least 3-4 weeks

* Ryder out for season

* Trotter out forever

Denver Post Covers "The Assault At Possum Hollow"

(above) Brandon Vossberg is helped off the ice after a fight with North Dakota's Kyle Radke on Saturday
Photo Credit: John Stennes, Grand Forks Herald

From: Denver Post

by Mike Chambers

North Dakota YouTube Video

Behind three late-game melees and seven major penalties, nine 10-minute misconducts and five game misconducts, North Dakota leads the country in penalty minutes, averaging 22.2 per game.

The Fighting Sioux's latest fight-interrupted game came Saturday night against the visiting University of Denver, and Pioneers coach George Gwozdecky was disturbed by all facets of it. (rest of article)

Chamber's Blog Reveals "Grassy Knoll" Video Link

This week Mike Chamber's Blog reveals a "secret" YouTube video link of "The Assault At Possum Hollow."

Chambers noted, "The YouTube video shot by an amateur, shows referee Marco Hunt do nothing after Radke takes ownership of Vossberg. Hunt was seemingly within five feet of the fight, but just watched." (rest of story & "secret video" UND doesn't want you to see)

Ruegsegger Out For "At Least" Three More Weeks

Coach Gwozdecky confirmed that Tyler Ruegsegger will be out for "at least three or four weeks." That would mean the Colorado College series or the first round of the WCHA playoffs. The injury has been officially descibed as an "abdominal injury" which could mean anything.

The Pioneers have been without Ruegsegger for the past four games. In a show of team solidarity, and on the heels of last week's departure of leading scorer Brock Trotter, the injured sophomore center he paid own his way to Grand Forks to support his teammates.

Ruegsegger suffered an injury to his midsection when he slid into the boards at Minnesota State-Mankato. He has been listed as week to week for the past several weeks, but was reportedly in discomfort "walking around campus."

Western College Hockey Blog Calls Out UND

Lots of fireworks over at the Western College Hockey Blog today. Needless to say the Sioux faithful weren't too pleased when Chris Dilks made a few salient observations.

Read the "comments" for a good laugh or two. :-)

DU Facing Labor Shortage Against UAA

(above) UND's Kyle Radke & J.P. Testwuide (11) mix it up in the second period Saturday night
Photo Credit: John Stennes

(left) Denver's Brandon Vossberg, bloodied in a fight between the second and third period is escorted off the ice by an official Saturday
Photo Credit John Stennes

From: Rocky Mountain News
by Pat Rooney

YouTube Video Of Vossberg-Radke fight

Already struggling to produce shots without two of its top offensive performers, the University of Denver will have to overcome additional issues when it attempts to snap out of its annual late-season funk at home against Alaska Anchorage on Friday and Saturday.

Tempers flared throughout the Pioneers' 4-1 loss at North Dakota on Saturday - it was DU's sixth loss in nine games - and forward Brandon Vossberg was assessed a game disqualification penalty for fighting North Dakota's Kyle Radke, who also dropped gloves with DU's J.P. Testwuide earlier in the match.

Vossberg suffered a cut above his left eye and will serve an automatic one-game suspension in Friday's opener against the Seawolves. It is possible the Western Collegiate Hockey Association will assess more sanctions after the teams combined for 121 penalty minutes.

With former leading scorer Brock Trotter recently signing with the Montreal Canadiens and third-leading scorer Tyler Ruegsegger out of the lineup because of an abdominal injury, the Pioneers managed only 35 shots in the two losses against the Fighting Sioux.

"We're trying to move on and we can't keep looking back at it," freshman forward Dustin Jackson said.

"We have to go on without (Trotter) and keep going. Every weekend is going to be our biggest games of the year."

DU has dropped to sixth in the PairWise rankings and third in the WCHA, six points behind co- leaders North Dakota and Colorado College.

Denver native Jon Cook made his DU debut Saturday, replacing Julian Marcuzzi in the lineup. Marcuzzi suffered a concussion in Friday's game.
DU falls to 6th in College Hockey News' Pairwise Rankings

DU is remained in 5th in College Hockey News' KRACH Rankings

DU fell to #2 in the LetsGoDU SuperPoll®

DU is #7 in the INCH Power Rankings,

DU is #8 in bothe the Poll and USA Today Poll.

LetsGoDU Top 10 SuperPoll®

1). North Dakota - What can we say, besides "they kicked our ass"
2). Denver - New team motto "Success without blowing three goal leads, aint worth anything"
3). Michigan - You have to do better than 2 goal victories over Lake State to have any street cred at LetsGoDU
4). New Hampshire - Did we mention they swept CC this season?
5). Minnesota State - Who'd a thunk it?
6). Boston College - Finally won a Beanpot
7). Michigan State - Stumbling towards NCAA again
8). Wisconsin - Kyle Turris is tuning up his game in Madison for the NHL playoffs
9). Miami - Ferris State sweeps
Last). Colorado College - Bye Week

UND 4 DU 1 Final Saturday Night

(above) Denver's Cody Brookwell takes down North Dakota's Matt Watkins during the second period Saturday night
Photo Credit: John Stennes, The Grand Forks Herald

by Virg Foss

Possum Hollow, N.D. — University of Denver hockey coach George Gwozdecky will be looking for answers after North Dakota put an exclamation point on the Pioneers' struggles of late.

The Fighting Sioux moved into a first-place tie with idle Colorado College in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association on Saturday night with a 4-1 win over DU.

It completed a weekend sweep for North Dakota (19-8-2, 16-7-1 WCHA) and ran its unbeaten streak to 11 games (10-0-1), the nation's longest.

Denver mustered just 17 shots on goal Saturday after managing only 18 on Friday, when the Pioneers blew a 4-1 lead in the second period and lost 5-4.

Sophomore center Brian Gifford scored Denver's only goal Saturday, at 13:14 of the second period, after the Sioux had built a 3-0 lead.

The Pioneers were held to nine shots on net in the first two periods.

"Our top two lines really struggled to generate chances," Gwozdecky said. "Part of it was that I thought North Dakota did a great job of forechecking us and really taking us out of a lot of transition. Our defensemen as a group really struggled against North Dakota's pressure."

It was the second time in three weeks the Pioneers have been swept on the road.

The Pioneers have been without Tyler Ruegsegger (abdominal injury) the past four games and lost leading scorer Brock Trotter (who signed with the Montreal Canadiens on Feb. 7) for the season.

Between the two, they accounted for 23 of Denver's 80 goals (29 percent). Minus both players, the Pioneers have been held to 10 goals the past four games.

"Any time you take two of your top players out of your lineup, it's going to affect you," Gwoz-decky said. "If you take (Ryan) Duncan and (T.J.) Oshie out of their lineup, it's probably going to affect them. They were pretty good this weekend."

They are North Dakota's top two scorers.

Duncan had a goal and three assists in Friday's win for the Sioux, and Oshie had a goal.

The Pioneers remain sixth in the PairWise rankings, which mimic the process the NCAA uses to select its 16-team tournament field. North Dakota moved into a tie for second in those rankings with New Hampshire.

DU Suffers Shocking Loss At Possum Hollow

(above) UND's Joe Finley checks DU's Julian Marcuzzi into the boards
Photo Credit: John Stennes

by Pat Miller
Possum Hollow, ND - North Dakota kept its nation-best 9-0-1 unbeaten streak alive by scoring four unanswered goals to defeat the visiting Denver Pioneers 5-4 in a thriller played in front of a sell-crowd of 11,793 at Ralph Engelstad Arena.

The Pioneers looked to have the game well in hand when they built a 4-1 lead at 8:09 of the second period, but the Fighting Sioux scored two goals in the final minute of that period to make it a one-goal game and regain the momentum.

“We didn’t panic when we were down 4-1,” said Ryan Duncan, last season’s Hobey Baker winner, who had a goal and three assists. “There was still half the game left. We just stuck together as a group. We came out in the third period and got the job done.”

Denver coach George Gwozdecky said it was disappointing that the Pioneers couldn’t put away the Sioux after building a three-goal lead.

“The difference in the game was obviously in the last two minutes of the period when we got a little lazy in clearing our zone both times and, as a result, paid for it,” he said. “We got a little reckless and weren’t able to finish it off.”

UND junior forward Andrew Kozek recorded his first career hat trick, scoring the game-tying and the game-winning goals in the third period. Recruited for his goal-scoring ability, his skill was on display as he played on UND’s top line with Duncan and center T.J. Oshie, a first-round draft pick of the St. Louis Blues.

“It’s definitely pretty easy playing with those guys,” he said. “They make the game a lot easier for you.”

What many expected to be a defensive struggle turned into an offensive slugfest as two of the top goalies in the WCHA struggled.

UND’s Jean-Philippe Lamoureux entered the contest with the best save percentage and goals against average in the nation, but he gave up four goals on Denver’s first eight shots. Pioneers’ goalie Peter Mannino ended the game with 21 saves on 26 shots.

“Both teams have a lot of offensive firepower and made some smart hockey plays,” said Sioux associate head coach Cary Eades. “Whether it’s 8-7 or 1-0, we’ll take the victory and the two points.”

Sioux coach Dave Hakstol was not at the game. He’s serving a two game suspension for making an obscene gesture toward a WCHA official during UND’s Feb. 2 game at Minnesota.

For most of the first two periods, it appeared UND missed Hakstol more than Denver missed two of its top scorers. The Pioneers leading scorer, forward Brock Trotter, departed for the pros on Feb. 7, and sophomore forward Tyler Ruegsegger missed his third straight game with an abdominal injury.

Freshman forward Anthony Maiani got Denver on the board first at 13:29 of the first period when he scored on a power play off a rebound shot. UND’s Kozek evened it up at the 16:00 minute mark with a power play goal of his own.

The Pioneers struck for three unanswered goals in the first nine minutes of the second period, seemingly taking control while taking the partisan crowd out of the game.

Freshman center Jesse Martin finished off a two-on-one rush when he beat Lamoureux five-hole 56 seconds into the period. Senior forward Tom May put the Pioneers up 3-1 when he fired in a rebound. At 8:09, it became a 4-1 game when sophomore forward Matt Glasser tipped in a centering pass from Brian Gifford

The Pioneers had what appeared to be an insurmountable lead, but the Sioux didn’t see it that way.

“I don’t think we ever thought that we were really out of the game,” Kozek said. “We talked about going one shift at a time, hard and short and seeing what happens. At the end of the second period, we really came together as a team. When we got within one goal of tying them, it was huge for us, a big momentum booster.”

With exactly one minute remaining in the period, Sioux sophomore defenseman Chay Genoway blasted in a shot from the left circle to make it 4-2. Just 33 seconds later, the Sioux struck again when Duncan tipped a shot by Kozek past Mannino. Suddenly it was a 4-3 game.

“We’ve been known to take shifts off and let teams come back on us,” May said of Denver’s effort during the final minute of the period. “We need to play 20 minutes each period and 60 minutes each night. That’s definitely been a problem.”

The Sioux and Kozek were just warming up for a big finish. Never mind that since Feb. 18, 2005, UND has been 0-24 when trailing after two periods and Denver was 16-0-1 this season when leading after two.

Kozek notched the game-tying goal at 10:58 of the third period. Duncan picked off a Denver clearing attempt and then fed Kozek, unguarded in the slot. He fired a hard wrist shot past Mannino to knot the score 4-4.

The game winning goal came at the 15:15 mark. Behind Denver’s goal, Oshie fought off a check from defenseman Chris Butler, went hard to the net and attempted a wraparound shot. The puck hit the far post, but rebounded to Kozek, parked at the top of the crease. He punched the puck into the open net to put UND up 5-4 for good.

The Pioneers had one more shot when they went on a power play with 2:37 left in the game, but Lamoureux and UND’s penalty killers held off Denver to gain the victory and a conference win that keeps the Sioux alone in second place, four points ahead of third place Denver.

“There’s no question that it’s a disappointing loss,” said Gwozdecky, “Nonetheless, as I told the team, there’s going to be games like this where there are huge momentum swings. We can learn from this.”

Notes: Referee Marco Hunt's equipment didn't arrive on his direct flight from Minneapolis on Friday, so he wore assistant referee Nathan Freeman's jersey and pinned orange stripes on the arms. The assistant referees wore their sweat suits.