This was the final meeting of the regular season between these two WCHA foes. It was an entertaining game that featured lots of hitting and intensity.
The opening period saw lots of end-to-end action but no sustained pressure by either team. The Pioneers were awarded the first power play of the game when Minnesota freshman Mike Howe was sent off for a trip at the 4:03 mark. The Gophers did a nice job of killing off the Pioneers’ power play. One problem that Denver on the power play throughout the evening was getting quality shots on net. The intensity really began to pick up near the midway of the period. At the 7:58 mark, freshman Paul Stastny would get the Pioneers on the board first. The play began with a nice keep in at the blueline by sophomore defenseman Matt Carle (SJ), who had beaten Minnesota sophomore defenseman Michael Vannelli (ATL) to the puck. Carle then moves the puck deeper into the Minnesota zone then brings the puck along the backboards to the right side. He then proceeds to make a nice drop pass to senior Jon Foster in front of the Minnesota. Foster couldn’t corral the loose puck. The puck slides by Foster. Stastny, who comes in late gets the loose puck in the slot area then snaps it by Minnesota sophomore goaltender Kellen Briggs that goes into the net top corner, stick side for the score. Foster and Carle would be credited with the assists. After the goal, the Pioneers begin to get some momentum having a little more jump in their step. One problem that Minnesota had in the opening period particularly was giving up some odd-man rushes that resulted in some glorious opportunities for Denver. Such an instance happened around the 12-minute mark, when Carle and Foster were darting toward the Minnesota net. Carle, who had puck possession during the rush, attempted to backhand a shot by Briggs that failed. At the 16:48 mark, junior Tyler Hirsch would get Minnesota on the board. It began with senior defenseman Judd Stevens getting the loose puck at the blueline off the draw. He then proceeds to backhand the puck to the right sideboards, where Howe is there to pick it up as it rebounded off the boards. Howe then proceeds to tip it behind him to an incoming Hirsch on the left side of the net. Hirsch then sweeps it by Denver sophomore goaltender Glenn Fisher (EDM) for the score. Howe and senior Jerrid Reinholz would draw the assists. In the latter stages of the period, tempers began to flare it up when Minnesota sophomore Danny Irmen (MIN) and Denver freshman defenseman Andrew Thomas got into a scrum that resulted in matching minors for both players at the 18:20 mark.
The second period began with 4-on-4 play. The Gophers had some good jump early. It wouldn’t be long before Denver would be getting their jump as well. At around the five minute mark, a scary incident took place for Denver as Minnesota junior Gino Guyer (DAL) drilled Denver sophomore Michael Handza from behind into the boards behind the Denver net. Amazingly, Guyer was not assessed a cross-checking penalty for it. Handza was down on the ice for a few moments but was able to skate off the ice under his own power, although he did appear to be a bit woozy skating back to the Denver bench. He was able to shake out the cobwebs and returned to the ice later for his next shift. At about the 9-minute mark, there was a mad scramble in front of the Denver net. There was also a delayed call on Denver freshman Geoff Paukovich (EDM) when Minnesota senior Jake Fleming appeared to have scored a goal. But after the referee looked at the replay, (Denver’s Magness Arena and Colorado College’s World Arena are the only NCAA schools presently using instant replay on an experimental basis. Replay reviews are at the discretion of the referees calling the game) the goal was disallowed because the supposedly the replay had shown that the puck never completely crossed over the goal line. Shortly thereafter, Paukovich was sent off on a roughing call. Denver looked very good on their penalty killing and managed to get a good shorthanded scoring chance as well. In the latter half of the period, Minnesota briefly took control of the game. Freshman defensemen Alex Goligoski (PIT) and Derek Peltier (COL) both had glorious scoring chances but Fisher was there to shut the door each time. At the 16:24 mark, sophomore Adrian Veideman would be sent off on a slashing call, putting the Gophers on the power play. At the 17:06 mark, sophomore Ryan Potulny (PHI) would give Minnesota their only lead of the night. The play began with Hirsch getting a rebound off of the boards near the left point. He then feeds the puck up to Irmen who is parked near the left corner in the Denver zone. He spots Potulny wide open on the far side of the net. Irmen then proceeds to make a nice cross-ice pass over to Potulny just as Carle is coming toward him. Potulny then gets Irmen’s feed and snaps it by Fisher just inside the far post for the score. Irmen and Hirsch would draw the assists, putting Minnesota up 2-1. At the 19:22 mark, senior Kevin Ulanski would get the equalizer for Denver on a two-on-one play. Goligoski, who a short time earlier jumped up into the play to get a good scoring chance, was late getting back. Denver senior Jeff Drummond ends up skating by Goligoski with the puck. He and Ulanski go up against Minnesota junior Chris Harrington on a two-on-one. After Harrington’s attempt to poke check the puck off of Drummond’s stick failed, Drummond feathers a nice pass to Ulanski on the opposite side. Ulanski then proceeds to flip the puck high stick-side over Briggs for the score. Drummond and junior Gabe Gauthier would draw the assists.
The final stanza would begin with the Pioneers on the power play. At the 19:42 mark of the second period, Stevens had taken a holding penalty. Minnesota was once again quite effective on the penalty kill. One of the best chances for Denver on the early power play came off of the stick of Paukovich, who attempted to go high on Briggs, but just couldn’t quite get it by him. At the 2:30 mark, senior defenseman Jussi Halme would give Denver the lead for good. It began with Veideman getting the loose puck near the left corner boards in the Minnesota zone. He then moves it along the backboards to Handza. Handza then wheels around in the right corner before flinging it at the Minnesota net. Briggs appeared to have gotten a piece of it, but gave up a rebound. Halme is there in the slot area just in time to get the loose puck and flip a backhander over a downed Briggs that goes in top-corner on the glove-side for the score. Handza and Veideman would draw the assists. After Halme’s goal, the Pioneers slowly began to take command of the game, beating Minnesota to loose pucks and attempting to capitalize on Minnesota’s mistakes. At the 6:37 mark, Stastny would score his second goal on the night on an absolutely stellar individual effort. The play begins with freshman Ryan Dingle picking up a rebound from near the right corner boards. He does a great job of shaking off Vannelli to move the puck to Stastny. Stastny manages to get away from Potulny’s back check and skates with the puck along the backboards. He then cuts around to the left side and puts on a nice move to get around Peltier at the side of the net, then proceeds to sweep a backhander that looked like it beat Briggs five-hole for the score. Dingle and senior Luke Fulghum would draw the assists. The score was now 4-2 Denver. The goal failed to get Minnesota going. While the Potulny line did generate some good scoring chances, the Gophers couldn’t find the back of the net again in the game. Meanwhile, Drummond’s speed was wreaking havoc on the Minnesota defense, as the speedster was creating some excellent scoring opportunities. Minnesota got two power play chances to close the gap but failed to do so. At the 19:31 mark, Drummond put the frosting on the cake with an empty netter. It began with Potulny getting a piece of a pass that was deflected by Ulanski’s stick. Drummond, hanging around the high slot area, turns and picks up the loose puck before snapping it into the empty net for the score. The game would end with a 5-2 win for Denver.
The Pioneers thoroughly dominated the Gophers in the third period. Fisher, who started rather shaky in the game, was very sharp in the latter parts of the game. As the game went along his confidence really soared and it showed. If the Pioneers could get some consistency out of Fisher for the rest of the season, then they’ll REALLY be a very difficulty team to play against in the future. Another player who was very good for the Pioneers in this game was the play of Geoff Paukovich. Paukovich took great pride in delivering some very solid hits throughout the game whenever the opportunities presented themselves. He has also shown marked improvement in his play around the net, using his size and strength to wreak havoc for Minnesota for much of the night and being one of the thorns in Kellen Briggs’ side. Minnesota continued to get some great play out of their “lunch pail” guys like Jerrid Reinholz, Jake Fleming and Garrett Smaagaard. While none got a goal tonight, they gave a very good effort, particularly early on in the game.
The Minnesota Golden Gophers will return home where they will host CCHA powerhouse Michigan in the College Hockey Showcase next Friday at Mariucci Arena. For the Denver Pioneers, the home stand continues when they welcome Boston University to Magness Arena also next Friday.
[1 – 0 DU] Paul Stastny (Jon Foster, Matt Carle) [1 – 1 MN] Tyler Hirsch (Jerrid Reinholz, Mike Howe)
[2 – 1 MN] Ryan Potulny [PPG] (Danny Irmen, Tyler Hirsch) [2 – 2 DU] Kevin Ulanski (Jeff Drummond, Gabe Gauthier)
[3 – 2 DU] Jussi Halme [GWG] (Michael Handza, Adrian Veideman) [4 – 2 DU] Paul Stastny (Ryan Dingle, Luke Fulghum) [5 – 2 DU] Jeff Drummond [EN] (Kevin Ulanski)
[DU] Glenn Fisher – 23 saves on 25 shots in the win
[MN] Kellen Briggs – 31 saves on 35 shots in the loss
I didn't see the game saturday, but I watched friday nights game, and it was easily the best game I've seen this year. wow what a exciting game. I got back from the Crunch vs Hamilton Bulldogs game (which stunk watching, very poor quality of hockey that game) only to flip on the Minnesota-Denver game. I actually turned it off after it was 3-0, thinking the game was all but over, but since I was in a hotel with nothing watch I ended up watching the whole game and I'm glad I did.
The 3rd period was nuts, I couldn't believe the Fulghum goal, as he went right to the net and got a pass out front to put it up high top shelf. Only to have Potulny come right back and score. That actually wasn't cool since it killed Denver's big comeback, but it was a fun game to watch.
I noticed that he hasn't been putting up the points but has he even been playing pretty physical out there?? Creating any scoring chances and stuff like that??
In the Saturday game, he was being pretty physical often. Being physical has actually been one of the most impressive things about Chucko thus far.
One problem that I've noticed about Chucko is he's having trouble finishing plays. What I mean by this is he'll get a real nice pass and then he'll either fan on the shot, hit the pipe or miss the net completely. For whatever reason, he just isn't finding the back of the net. In the series versus Wisconsin about two weeks ago, I remember a gorgeous tape-to-tape pass that Gino Guyer put right on his stick. Chucko was in the perfect shooting position and had Bruckler at his mercy and guess what? He shot it wide.
Chucko needs to relax out there. He is just to hyper out there. He actually has some soft hands out there. Will make good plays then he panics and misses the mark. He is trying hard and making plays but not finishing them off.