Pioneers on Top in MacNaughton Cup Derby as Three Points Separate Top Five Clubs; Tickets Continue on Sale for 2010 Red Baron WCHA Final Five
MADISON, Wis. – The Denver Pioneers, pre-season favorite of the league’s head coaches, completed a key two-game Western Collegiate Hockey Association road sweep over defending MacNaughton Cup champion North Dakota on Saturday (Jan. 30) with a 4-2 victory, using the four weekend points to re-claim sole possession of first place heading into the final five weeks of the 2009-10 regular season. The Pioneers went 4-0-0 vs the Sioux in their four-game season series.
In the four other two-game WCHA sets contested this past Friday and Saturday, four teams fought back to earn splits on Saturday night, as host Minnesota Duluth blanked Wisconsin, 4-0, Colorado College claimed a 6-4 victory over visiting St. Cloud State, host Alaska Anchorage toppled Minnesota, 2-1, and Minnesota State, Mankato won 3-2 at Michigan Tech.
Through games of Jan. 31, just two points separate the current top three and only three points lie between the top five. Denver (16-6-4, 12-4-4 WCHA) is on top of the league with 28 points, Minnesota Duluth (17-10-1, 13-6-1 WCHA) is second with 27, St. Cloud State (17-8-3, 12-6-2 WCHA) is third with 26, and Wisconsin (15-7-4, 11-6-3 WCHA) and Colorado College (15-10-3, 11-8-3 WCHA) share fifth place with 25 points apiece. North Dakota (13-10-5, 8-9-3 WCHA) is sixth with 19 points, Minnesota (13-13-2, 8-10-2 WCHA) is one back of the Sioux in seventh with 18 points, Alaska Anchorage (10-15-1, 8-13-1 WCHA) is one back of the Gophers with 17, Minnesota State (12-14-2, 6-13-1 WCHA) is ninth with 13 points, and Michigan Tech (4-21-1, 3-17-0 WCHA) is 10th with six points.
A glance at next weekend’s – Feb. 5-6 – schedule finds two WCHA series as Minnesota Duluth heads to Michigan Tech for Winter Carnival and St. Cloud State hosts Alaska Anchorage. In non-conference play, Wisconsin will host Michigan in the Culver’s Camp Randall Hockey Classic outdoors on Saturday, Denver hosts Mercyhurst on Friday and then plays at Air Force Academy on Saturday, and Colorado College hosts Air Force and Mercyhurst. In non-conference play this season, the WCHA is a collective 40-22-5 (.634) through 67 games. Minnesota, Minnesota State and North Dakota will all be idle.
On Saturday evening in Grand Forks, visiting Denver erased a 2-0 second period deficit with three unanswered goals in a span of 7:21, with right winger Joe Colborne scoring the game-winner at 17:52, to upend host North Dakota 4-2 in WCHA action before a Ralph Engelstad Arena sellout crowd of 11,750 and sweep both the weekend and season series (4-0-0). Colborne (1g, 1a), winger Rhett Rakhshani (1g, 1a), center Drew Shore (1g, 1a) and winger Anthony Maiani (2a) each had two points while Marc Cheverie stopped 22 shots on goal. For the Sioux, center Chris VandeVelde scored the game’s first two goals to put UND up 2-0 while winger Jason Gregoire had two assists.
Before a sellout crowd of 5,388 at the DECC in Duluth on Jan. 30, host Minnesota Duluth blanked Wisconsin, 4-0, in WCHA play to gain a weekend series split as winger Mike Connolly had a goal and an assist, winger Justin Fontaine tallied the game-winner and Kenny Reiter stopped all 28 shots on goal. Also for UMD, center Jack Connolly added two assists. The Bulldogs blanked the Badgers on all five of their power-play chances while hitting on 1-of-9 themselves. The season series went 1-1-0.
At the Colorado Spring World Arena on Saturday night, 10 players had points for host Colorado College in a 6-4 league triumph over St. Cloud State before 7,084, with right winger Mike Testwuide scoring one goal and setting up two others and left winger Andrew Hamburg netting a pair of scores. The Tigers, trailing 4-3 entering the final 20:00 after the Huskies’ Garrett Roe (2g, 1a) scored his second of the night on a power-play at 7:22 of the second, responded with three unanswered goals in the third as defenseman Ryan Lowery knocked home the game-winner on a power-play at 15:02.
At Sullivan Arena in Anchorage on Saturday evening, host Alaska Anchorage rallied back from a WCHA loss to Minnesota on Friday to down the Golden Gophers, 2-1, before 3,632 as right winger Kevin Clark scored the game-winner shorthanded at 14:02 of the second period. Visiting Minnesota led 1-0 after right winger Zach Budish tallied at 15:05 of the opening period before Seawolves’ center iceman Josh Lunden scored on a power-play just 0:37 into the middle stanza. Also for UAA, Jon Olthuis earned the win between the pipes with a 23-save effort.
And at John MacInnes Student Ice Arena in Houghton on Jan. 30, visiting Minnesota State stepped up for a weekend WCHA series split with a 3-2 victory over Michigan Tech before 1,982 as goaltender Phil Cook stopped 30 of 32 shots on goal and center Rylan Galiardi had a goal and an assist. The Mavericks, who outshot the Huskies 45-32, hit on 2-of-8 power-play chances while MTU was 1-of-7. Scoring the eventual game-winner for Minnesota State was right winger Kael Mouillierat, who put the Mavericks up 3-1 in the third with a goal at 12:23. For Michigan Tech, center Brett Olson scored both goals, one in the second period to close to within 2-1 and one in the third to close to within 3-2, while Kevin Genoe had 42 saves in nets.
This Week in the WCHA
Results of Friday, January 29: Minnesota 7 at Alaska Anchorage 4 (WCHA); Minnesota State 1 at Michigan Tech 4 (WCHA); Wisconsin 5 at Minnesota Duluth 2 (WCHA); St. Cloud State 5 at Colorado College 4 (WCHA); Denver 2 at North Dakota 0 (WCHA).
Results of Saturday, January 30: Minnesota State 3 at Michigan Tech 2 (WCHA); Minnesota 1 at Alaska Anchorage 2 (WCHA); St. Cloud State 4 at Colorado College 6 (WCHA); Denver 4 at North Dakota 2 (WCHA); Wisconsin 0 at Minnesota Duluth 4 (WCHA).