Roman Augustoviz spends Minnesota's winters covering college hockey, specifically the Gophers, and other University of Minnesota sports. During the summer, he writes about the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx, with a dose of U sports sprinkled in. Follow him on Twitter @RomanStrib.

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DU going with freshman goalie -- because Pioneers must

Posted by: Roman Augustoviz under Denver, WCHA news Updated: November 30, 2011 - 1:24 AM

Behind Juho Olkinuora in the nets at Denver there is only hope right now.

Junior Zack Hope, a walk-on who was a regular DU student until this season and a member of the club team in rugby.

But Olkinuora, a freshman from Finland, is doing pretty well as an unexpected regular. Last weekend he beat Princeton 3-0 and lost to surging Miami 4-2, giving up only two even-strength goals. He is DU's goalie for now.

Sophomore Sam Brittain, the team's top goalie last season, had knee surgery on June 17. DU coach George Gwozdecky said Tuesday on his radio show that Brittain should start skating in mid-December.

Adam Murray was expected to be the main goalie until Brittain's return, but he suffered a groin injury on Nov. 19 in a 3-3 tie with Nebraska Omaha in Denver. He won't be back until late January.

"We're fortunate to have a quality goaltender like Olkinuora," Gwozdecky said. "He competes like crazy. ... He wants to play and he has shown he can play."

Olkinuora is 1-2-2 with a 1.91 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage. Murray is 5-2-1 with a 3.40 gaa and a .902 save pct. He was named the WCHA's rookie player of the week on Tuesday.

The Pioneers, rated No. 10 in the national polls, are 6-4-3 overall, 4-2-3 WCHA, with a big game against No. 8 Colorado College, their top rival, on Friday at Colorado Springs World Arena.

"The Tigers are really good at home," Gwozdecky said. "It is going to be loud. It is going to be obnoxious from sections of their fans."

It is going to be on national TV. CBS Sports Netrwork is broadcasting a rivals double-header on Friday. Boston College and Boston University will play in the first game, CC and DU in the second.

DU and CC were supposed to have an open date on Friday, but agreed to play one game for TV. Gwozdecky called it a chance to showcase the university and his hockey program nationally. The two teams have played once, on Nov. 12. Denver won that game 5-4 at Magness Arena.

He is worried a bit about some of his players adjusting to the bigger sheet of ice at World Arena, which is 15 feet wider than the 200x85 rink at Magness Arena. The shape of the corners is much more square, too, at CC, Gwozdecky said..

Gwozdecky said he expects a physical, emotional, intense game -- "a battle for every square inch of the ice" -- as CC and DU battle for the Gold Pan Trophy.

* The Gophers play at Denver on Feb. 10-11.

* Gwozdecky coached in his 1,000th game on Saturday versus Miami. His record over 26 seasons is 554-367-79.

* Sophomore Jason Zucker, a Wild draftee, is DU's second leading scorer with six goals and 11 assists for 17 points.

 DU BETTER IN LOSS

Gwozdecky said the Pioneers were very mediocre in the win over Princeton and turned the puck over a lot. He said his team played much, much better against Miami. "We faced a golatender who was incredible," Gwozdecky said. "There was no shame in the loss."

The RedHawks were the nation's preseason No. 1 team, started slow, but have won eight in a row.

* DU has moved its practices from the afternoon to the morning this week because the players are on a break from classes until January. "The next five, six weeks, they are living the live of pro hockey players," Gwozdecky said. ... Well, maybe not exactly. ... On Wednesday, the Pioneers are bonding by holding their annual bowling tournament.

* Gwozdecky was on the air for 30 minutes Tuesday on 102.3 The Ticket. The Pioneers' web site has a link to the live audio.

 ARENA SIZES

The 12 arenas in the WCHA have six Olympic-size rinks and six smaller NHL-size rinks. Here is a breakdown:

200x100

Alaska Anchorage, Sullivan Arena

Colorado College, World Arena

Minnesota, Mariucci Arena

Minnesota State, Verizon Wireless Center

St. Cloud State, National Hockey Center

Wisconsin, Kohl Center (just a bit smaller at 200x97)

200x85

Bemidji State, Sanford Center

Denver, Magness Arena

Michigan Tech, MacInnes Student Ice Arena

Minnesota Duluth, Amsoil Arena

North Dakota, Ralph Engelstad Arena

Nebraska Omaha, Qwest Center

 

 

 

 

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