Victory Moves DU Within One Win Of MacNaughton

(above) John Lee, Brian Gifford & Branddon Vossberg clean out the trash in front of Chevy

From: Mankato Free Press
by Shane Frederick

What’s the difference between No. 1 in the country and ninth place in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association?

“I feel like we’re right there,” Minnesota State forward Rylan Galiardi said after Minnesota State’s 3-1 loss to top-ranked Denver on Friday. “It was there for us to take. I gotta hand it to (Denver). The difference between us and them, is they’ve learned how to win.”

The difference before a crowd of 3,723 at the Verizon Wireless Center was also having the nation’s best goaltender and having a group of all-conference-caliber players who could cash in on special teams.

Pioneers goalie Marc Cheverie stopped 28 shots, and Denver’s top line of Rhett Rakhshani, Tyler Ruegsegger and Joe Colborne had a hand in all three goals. Two of the Pioneers’ goals came on the power play, and the other one came during a delayed penalty. Rakhshani, the WCHA’s scoring leader, finished with three assists.

Minnesota State outshot Denver 29-20, and the game was tied 1-1 until Colborne’s redirection at 6:51 of the third period.

“It tells you the margin for success and no success in this league is so thin,” said Denver coach George Gwozdecky, whose team can clinch the WCHA championship with a win tonight.

Zach Harrison scored the Mavericks’ lone goal, tying the game at 11:19 of the second period on a pretty play from Galiardi and Mike Louwerse.

Minnesota State freshman goaltender Phil Cook made 17 saves. There wasn’t much he could do about any of the goals.

Denver opened the scoring with a power-play goal midway through the first period when Ruegsegger tried to make a back-door pass through the crease but hit MSU defenseman Channing Boe. The puck took an unfortunate carom and popped into the net behind Cook.

During a delayed penalty in the third period, Colborne broke the tie when he tipped defenseman William Wrenn’s shot between Cook’s pads. Less than four minutes later, Denver defenseman Matt Donovan snuck down low and buried a cross-crease pass from Ruegsegger during a power play for a 3-1 lead.

“I thought we played a good hockey game with the exception of special teams,” Mavericks coach Troy Jutting said. “We got beat on special teams.

“I thought we played a smart game. I thought our effort was good. Defensively, we played very good hockey, and offensively, we created some things for ourselves.”

Cheverie, who leads the WCHA in save percentage and goals-against average, stopped Galiardi on two great scoring chances. In the first period, Galiardi walked the puck across the goalmouth and tried to score at the far post only to be turned away by an alert Cheverie. In the third period, the goalie turned aside Galiardi’s redirection try with his left pad during a power play.

“I thought that Mankato had us on our heels,” Gwozdecky said. “They created some chances down low and we got mixed up in our coverages. (Cheverie) made some great saves. …

“We were a tad more opportunistic than they were.”

The Mavericks finished 0 for 4 with the man advantage.

“It was just them bending and not breaking and us not capitalizing,” Galiardi said.

Early this season, Minnesota State lost 4-3 and tied 4-4 at Denver.

“We’re better now than we were then,” Galiardi said. “Denver’s the No. 1 team in the country. We’re neck and neck with them. It would be easy to just sit and say that they’re better than us. But the tough things is, I can’t say that.”


Coach said...

Gwoz said it best when he commented about the thin line between winning and losing in the WCHA. Denver may be on top of the league standings, but so many games have been decided by a big save or a clutch goal. DU`s goals for/against are not any better than Wisconsin`s or North Dakota`s. Every WCHA team is capable of winning on any night against any opponent, and the Pioneers are fortunate to have a coach who will make sure they stay focused every game.

Ralphie said...

I keep thinking we're living a bit of a lie. The margin of victory is razor thin but Chevy is the final factor in the equation for us. We've been out-shot and out-played on many a nights and still seem to walk away with a W. But as a CU football fan, I can tell you good teams find a way to win these types of games, and bad teams (the Buffs lately), find ways to lose these games. Having said that, we're getting healthier contributions from all four lines and the last two months we have seen some dominating performances.

Jordan said...

And we didn't tank in the last half of the season...

pessimisticfan said...

With comparisons to last years format and the updated PWR rankings as of this morning this is what the current bracketology looks like:

NE Regional:
1. Denver
2. North Dakota
3. Cornell
4. Ferris State

East Regional:
1. Bemidji State
2. St. Cloud State
3. New Hampshire
4. Colorado College

Midwest Regional:
1. Miami
2. Yale
3. Michigan State
4. RIT

West Regional:
1. Wisconsin
2. Boston College
3. Alaska
4. Vermont

pessimisticfan said...

And for anyone that doesn't know after the regionals in the Frozen Four NE plays East champion and Midwest plays West champion, then creating the National Championsip game. Thus, DU vs. New Hampshire for the Frozen Four.

pessimisticfan said...

Also, a story from way back over the summer in July. Former Wisconsin forward Chris Hickey who decided to transfer and was contemplating coming to DU, has decided to commit to Dartmouth instead and will play for the Mean Green next season. Tough luck, bc we could have used him on the 3rd line with the likely departure of Big Joe Colborne.

Anonymous said...

NO... the NCAA always puts the conference winner in their home bracket.. so DU would be in the West regional.

pessimisticfan said...

Thats wrong, bc we're not hosting the west regional. If we were hosting it from the Pepsi Center or Magness then yes that would be correct.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on winning the McNaughten Anchor.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't matter if your hosting or not. This doesn't say it as clearly as I remember, but it's what I was trying to say all along...

"An attempt will first be made to keep teams closest to their home region, but there is an emphasis on avoiding first-round intra-conference matchups."

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