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.
No. 3 Denver had to battle to beat Minnesota State Mavericks 4-3 Friday in its first road game of the season.
“We’ve had some great, great wins here [at the Verizon Center]; some big wins,” DU coach George Gwozdecky said in a Pioneers' news release. “We’ve also had some tremendously heartbreaking losses as well. Whenever these two teams get together, no matter what year it is, it’s always going to be an interesting game. It’s always going to be topsy-turvy, swings of emotion, and tonight certainly was.”
Only 3,184 fans came to watch those swings. The win gave the Pioneers (6-1-0, 4-1-0) sole possession of first place in the WCHA.
Goals by freshman Nolan Zajac, sophomore Joey LaLeggia and senior Shawn Ostrow put the Pioneers 3-0 early in the second period. But they needed sophomore Daniel Doremus' goal in the third for the game-winner.
Junior goalie Sam Brittain made 33 saves, including a kick-save with six seconds left off a face-off shot from Eriah Hayes that would have tied that score.
“I thought we started out reckless on the power-play, and Sam Brittain made some great saves to ‘save our bacon,’ so to speak,” Gwozdecky said.
The Mavericks (3-4-1, 1-4-0) got goals late in the middle period, at 15:43 and 17:16, from Jean-Paul Lafontaine and Hayes to close within 3-2.
For the Pioneers’ final goal, Ostrow, from behind the net, threw the puck up to Doremus, alone above the near hash mark. He then snapped a wrister that beat goaltender Stephon Williams just below the cross bar to make it 4-2. It was the only shot on goal DU had in the third period when they were outshot 13-1.
Lafontaine' second goal at 18:09 cut the Pioneers’ lead to one goal again.
The Mavericks used two goals. Phil Cook was pulled after the Pioneers' third goal. He had nine saves in 23:28. Stephon Williams had seven saves the rest of the second period, none in the third.
MSU probably deserved a better fate than a loss.
Three stars of the game were Lafontaine of MSU, Ostrow and Nolan Zajac of DU.
Junior defenseman David Makowski and freshman winger Garrett Allen scored goals for Denver in a 2-2 overtime tie with British Columbia in an exhibition game Saturday at the Pepsi Center.
“I don’t know if I would say it’s disappointing to not come up with a win, but there’s a lot of things we have to work on,” Pioneers coach George Gwozdecky said. “Our power play needs to improve. The scheme we run, coming up with loose pucks and a lot of little things will be worked on before we play our first nonconference series.”
The star of the game might have been Thunderbirds goalie Steven Stanford with 45 saves.
DU took a 2-0 lead early in the second period. But UBC scored in the middle of that period and again with under five minutes to play.
The Pioneers outshot the Thunderbirds 47-29. Sam Brittain had 14 saves in the first half of the game for DU, Adam Murray 13 in the second half.
Both teams were zero for four on the power play.
The Pioneers' next game is Friday Oct. 19 vs. UMass-Lowell at home..
The Gophers play No. 8-rated Denver only once, March 1-2 at Mariucci in the second-to-last weekend of the regular season.
GOPHERS WOMEN SWEEP
The No. 1-rated Gophers women's hockey team swept St. Cloud State 7-1 and 4-0 at Ridder Arena. Amanda Kessel had two goals and two assists in the first game for the U, Maryanne Menefee had two goals the second night.
* Bemidji State coach Tom Serratore, in his 12th season, has 20 players back, including top scorer Jordan George. The senior forward from Madison, Wis. native had his third consecutive 30-point season with 31 points and a team-leading 19 goals.
Coach George Gwozdecky of Denver keeps losing underclassmen.
Sophomore forward Beau Bennett is the latest to leave the Pioneers. Bennett, of Gardena, Calif., has signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Penguins drafted him in the first round -- 20th overall -- in the 2010 NHL draft. The 6-1, 190-pound Bennett played only 10 games in 2011-12 because of a wrist injury and finished with four goals and nine assists.
He had nine goals and 16 assists for 25 points as a freshman.
"We are happy for Beau that he is realizing his life-long dream to become a professional hockey player," said Gwozdecky in a DU news release. "Beau is a big-time talent, who would have put up big numbers for us last season if it wasn't for his injury."
Two other DU forwards with eligibility left turned pro earlier since the Pioneers' season ended. Drew Shore, a junior center, signed with the Florida Panthers and sophomore winger Jason Zucker with the Wild.
This is the second time in three years that the Pioneers have lost three underclassmen in the offseason. Here is a list of the 17th underclassmen who have signed pro contract in Gwozdecky's 18 seasons as head coach:
2011: Matt Donovan
2010: Marc Cheverie, Joe Colborne, Patrick Wiercioch
2009: Tyler Bozak
2008: Chris Butler, Brock Trotter
2007: Geoff Paukovich, Ryan Dingle
2006: Paul Stastny, Matt Carle
2005: Brett Skinner
2000: Mark Rycroft
1999: Matt Pettinger
* The U.S team beat the Czech Republic, the host team, 5-0 in the under-18 IIHF men's world championships. Goalie Collin Olson of Apple Valley made 17 saves for his second shutout in two games. He and U.S. beat Finland 4-0 on Thursday. The Americans outshot the Czechs 37-17. Next the U.S. team plays Denmark on Sunday and Canada on Tuesday.
* Former Gopher Gigi Marvin scored two unassisted, power-play goals but the U.S. team lost 5-4 to Canada in the gold medal game of the IIHF women's world championships in Burlington, Vt. Amanda Kessel and Megan Bozek, two present Gophers, each had one assist.
* Inside College Hockey named North Dakota's Dave Hakstol its national coach of the year. The Fighting Sioux were 26-13-3 and won their record third Broadmoor Trophy in a row. The Fighting Sioux lost 110 games because of injuries to eight players. UND played 14 games with one or more skaters under the 18 permitted. The Sioux were 11-3 in this short-handed games.
Two St. Cloud State forwards, junior Dave Eddy and senior Travis Novak, have signed pro contracts.
Eddy, of Woodbury, signed a two-year, two-way contract with the Calgary Flames starting in 2012-13.
He had nine goals and a career-high 25 points this season. For his career he had 30 goals and 55 points in 92 games.
Said Flames general manager Jay Feaster, according to a SCSU news release:
“David is a hard worker who goes to the high traffic areas on the ice and plays the game with grit and passion. He is the type of player who agitates opponents by the way he battles and competes.
"He is very strong on his skates and tough to move from in front of the net. At the same time, he has good hands and vision and we like his offensive instincts. We are pleased he has chosen to start his professional career with our organization and we look forward to his continued development.”
For now, Eddy signed an amateur tryout contract with the AHL's Abbotsford Heat, an affiliate of the Flames.
Novak signed an amateur tryout contract with the AHL's Hamilton Bulldogs, a Montreal Canadiens affiliate. Novak had 12 goals and 13 assists for 25 points, all career highs this season.
The Huskies lost to North Dakota 4-1 in the quarterfinals of the Final Five last week. They finished an injury-marred season 17-17-5, but were 7-3-1 in their last 11 games.
"We don't want it to end, it hurts because we think we should still be playing," SCSU coach Bob Motzko said after his team's last game.
Motzko said at one point this season the Huskies were without seven forwards, five of the team's defensemen were freshmen or sophomores and he had to play a freshman in the nets for 20 consecutive games.
UNO LOSES ONE OF TOP SCORERS
Junior left wing Terry Broadhurst of Nebraska Omaha has signed a pro contract with the Chicago Blackhawks of the NHL, the school annouced earlier this week.
“Terry has exceled in his three seasons at UNO, and he is someone who has always had high expectations,” UNO coach Dean Blais was quoted as saying in a Mavericks' news releases. “It has been his aspiration to play in the NHL, and this is a step toward that goal. We wish him the best.”
Broadhurst had 16 goals and 20 assists for 36 points, the second most on the team He is from Orland Park, Ill.
ZUCKER ON TRIP
Denver forward Jason Zucker, who was injured last Saturday in the Final Five title game, tweeted Tuesday night he is making the trip to Green Bay with his team the net morning.
The Pioneers meet Ferris State in a first-round NCAA game on Friday in the Midwest Regional.
DU coach George Gwozdecky on Zucker, a Wild prospect: "Certainly he has a great release. ... [But] especially early [in his college career] he played too much on the perimeter. It took a while."
FINAL FIVE BREAKS 70,000
The five-game Final Five last week drew a total attendance of 73,002. That's the eighth highest total in the 20-year history of the WCHA's postseason tournament.
Attendance by games:
Michigan Tech vs. Denver, 11,489
St. Cloud State vs. North Dakota, 15,133
Denver vs. Minnesota Duluth, 12,804
North Dakota vs. Gophers, 16,738
Denver vs. North Dakota, 16,838
Wisconsin, which visits the Gophers on the final weekend of the regular season, helped them on Saturday.
The Badgers upset No. 10 Denver 5-2 at the Kohl Center. Because of the loss, third-place DU fell four games behind the Gophers in the WCHA race and also dropped below the U in the PairWise ratings.
The Gophers are eighth team in the lastest PairWise, DU the 12th (both are actually tied with another team, but the Gophers win their tiebreaker, the Pioneers lose theirs).
“We were playing well and we just had to keep going and just needed to get one,” said sophomore forward Mark Zengerle, who scored the Badgers first goal in the seventh minute of the middle period. “Once we got one the floodgates opened and we played really well.”
Zengerle's goal tied the score at 1-1. Four minutes later Zengerle -- with his 30th assist -- set up freshman Brendan Woods for a goal to put Wisconsin ahead 2-1.
Forwards Keegan Meuer and Michael Mersch and defenseman Justin Schultz had third-period goals for the Badgers.
“No matter where we end up in the standings, this is the type of game we are going to need when we go into the playoffs,” coach Mike Eaves said. “This is a playoff-ready type of game. And that’s the mentality we need to have as we go down these next four games.”
The Badgers are tied for 10th place in the WCHA standings with Minnesota State.
Schultz said the sellout crowd at the Kohl Center was a big factor in the team’s performance Saturday.
“One of the things we talked about in the dressing room is getting these fans a goal," Schultz said, "and getting them going because they were hungry for one. Once that happened, we kind of fed off it and you could tell in the third period the boys were all fired up on the bench.”
The Badgers broke a five-game losing streak with the victory. The Wisconsin State Journal story on the game is here.
Jason Zucker and Drew Shore had the Pioneers' goals. Zucker also had an assist.
“We got our butt kicked tonight,” DU coach George Gwozdecky said. “We made some critical errors in our own zone and Wisconsin took full advantage. We must be better defensively, and we will be next weekend against North Dakota.”
The Badgers play at Bemidji State before their visit to Mariucci Arena.
* Denver beat Wisconsin 3-0 on Friday getting goals from Luke Salazar, Zucker and Nick Shore. ... Remember Zucker was hurt the weekend before, taking a big hit from Kyle Rau in the first game of the Gophers-DU series. Zucker didn't return that game, and missed Saturday's game. Rau got a one-game suspension after getting as five-minute major for boarding and a 10-minute game disqualification when the play happened.
Zucker, of course, is a Wild prospect. Initial reports from sources was that Zucker had a shoulder or rib injury or maybe a bruised lung. Whatever it was, it obviously wasn't serious because he returned the next weekend and played at a high level.
* The Gophers split with the Badgers on Nov. 11-12 in Madison. Wisconsin won the first game 3-1, the Gophers won the next night 4-1.
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