Denver, Wisconsin Have Two Games in Hand on Huskies; Four Points Separate Top Four Teams; Tickets Continue on Sale for 2010 Red Baron WCHA Final Five, March 18-20 at Xcel Energy Center
MADISON, Wis. – The St. Cloud State Huskies, one of the hottest teams in Division 1 men’s college hockey, upended visiting North Dakota, 4-3, on Friday (Feb. 12) evening to move to 11-1-1 in the New Year and take over sole possession of first place in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association race heading into Saturday’s schedule.
On a weekend that features just three conference series, host teams Denver and Wisconsin were also both victorious on Friday night as both teams stayed within close range of the league-leading Huskies. The pre-season MacNaughton Cup-favorite Pioneers defeated visiting Minnesota, 3-1, while the host Badgers edged Minnesota State, 4-3. Both Denver and Wisconsin currently have two games in hand on SCSU.
On Saturday (Feb. 13), St. Cloud State and North Dakota will face-off at 7:07 pm CT at the National Hockey Center (5,371), Denver will again host Minnesota at Magness Arena (6,026) at 7:07 pm MT, and Wisconsin entertains Minnesota State at 8:07 pm CT at the Kohl Center (15,237). Alaska Anchorage, Colorado College, Michigan Tech and Minnesota Duluth are all idle this week.
Through games of Feb. 12, just two points separate the top three teams in the standings and just four lie between the current top four. St. Cloud State (19-8-4, 14-6-3 WCHA) is out front with 31 points in 23 league games played, Denver (19-6-4, 13-4-4 WCHA) is second with 30 points in 21 games, Minnesota Duluth (18-11-1, 14-7-1 WCHA) is third with 29 in 22 games, Wisconsin (17-7-4, 12-6-3 WCHA) is fourth with 27 points in 21 games, and Colorado College (17-10-3, 11-8-3 WCHA) is fifth with 25 points in 22 games. Defending WCHA champion North Dakota (13-11-5, 8-10-3 WCHA) is sixth with 19 points, Minnesota (13-14-2, 8-11-2 WCHA) and Alaska Anchorage (10-16-2, 8-14-2 WCHA) are tied for seventh, although the Seawolves have played three more league games, Minnesota State (12-15-2, 6-14-1 WCHA) is ninth with 13 points in 21 games, and Michigan Tech (5-22-1, 4-18-0 WCHA) is 10th with eight points.
In non-conference action so far this season, WCHA-member teams are a collective 45-22-5 for a .660 winning percentage through 72 games.
A glance at next weekend’s – Friday-Saturday, Feb. 19-20 – finds all 10 WCHA teams engaged in conference competition. Denver entertains Michigan Tech, Wisconsin hosts St. Cloud State, Colorado College travels to Minnesota, Minnesota State hosts Alaska Anchorage, and Minnesota Duluth heads to North Dakota.
At the National Hockey Center on Friday evening, host St. Cloud State received the game-winning goal from right winger Travis Novak at 19:03 of the second period and overcame two one-goal deficits to claim a 4-3 WCHA win over North Dakota before a sellout crowd of 6,101. Outshot 46-26 in the game, the Huskies trailed 2-1 after the first period and then 3-2 in the second after Sioux centerman Chris VandeVelde scored at 12:48. But the Huskies evened the score at 3-3 at 16:03 of period two following a power-play goal from right winger Ryan Lasch and capitalized on a 43-save effort from Dan Dunn between the pipes. Also for the Huskies, center Drew LeBlanc and defenseman Taylor Johnson each had two assists. For UND, defenseman Jake Marto (1g, 1a) and right winger Corban Knight (2a) had two points each. SCSU leads the season series, 2-1-0.
At Magness Arena on Friday night, a sellout crowd of 6,045 saw their Denver Pioneers emerge with a 3-1 WCHA triumph over visiting Minnesota as goaltender Marc Cheverie stopped 44 of 45 shots on goal and the line of left winger Rhett Rakhshani (1g, 1a), center Tyler Ruegsegger (1g, 1a) and right winger Joe Colborne (1g) combined for all three third period goals. Colborne’s goal at 11:37 of the third was the game-winner. Scoring for the Golden Gophers, who outshot their hosts 45-31, was center Patrick White, whose extra-attacker goal at 18:22 of the final period closed the gap to 2-1. DU leads the season series vs UM, 3-0-0.
And before 12,522 at the Kohl Center in Madison on Friday evening, host Wisconsin opened a three-goal lead and then hung on for a 4-3 victory over Minnesota State in WCHA action as center Aaron Bendickson netted the game-winner. The Badgers outshot the Mavericks 44-24 while scoring on 3-of-12 power-play chances while MSU was 0-of-5 with the extra man. Leading the way for the UW were center Blake Geoffrion (1g, 3a) and right winger Michael Davies (2g, 1a). For the Mavericks, Phil Cook had 40 saves in goal while center Zach Harrison scored shorthanded at 15:38 of the third to make it 4-2 and then right winger Kael Mouillierat scored on a penalty-shot at 19:00 to make it a one-goal finish. Wisconsin leads the season series vs MSU, 2-1-0.
This Week in the WCHA
Results of Friday, February 12: North Dakota 3 at St. Cloud State 4 (WCHA); Minnesota 1 at Denver 3 (WCHA); Minnesota State 3 at Wisconsin 4 (WCHA).
Games for Saturday, February 13: Minnesota at Denver (WCHA), 7:07 pm MT; North Dakota at St. Cloud State (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT; Minnesota State at Wisconsin (WCHA), 8:07 pm CT.