DENVER — Sophomore goaltender Wade Dubielewicz made 26 saves and freshman forward Connor James scored his sixth goal of the season but it was not enough as Western Collegiate Hockey Association foe Minnesota State, Mankato stole the show at Magness Arena with a 3-1 victory Friday night. With the loss Denver drops to 14-11-3, 9-9-2 WCHA. Minnesota State, Mankato improves to 16-10-1, 10-8-1.
The Mavericks opened the contest aggressively by attacking Denver with relentless pursuit on offense. Mankato out-shot the Pioneers 6-0 in the opening half of the period and took the first lead of the game, 1-0 on a power play opportunity when Jesse Rooney chipped in the loose puck after Dubielewicz made an initial save but failed to cover up the rebound at 13:35.
Denver responded with offense of its own and out-shot the Mavericks 16-6 in the final 10 minutes of the first period. Their efforts were rewarded late in the stanza when James scored by tipping in a loose rebound past Mankato’s goalie Eric Pateman to tie the game, 1-1 at 18:31
Both teams tightened up on the defensive end and failed to yield many shots on goal in the second period. They entered the recess tied 1-1, after the Pioneers successfully killed the first three and a half minutes of Lukas Dora’s five-minute major.
Mankato opened the third period with a minute and a half left on the power play. Denver held its ground before Mankato forward T.J. Guidarelli slipped the puck by Dubielewicz with nine seconds remaining to extend the Maverick’s lead to 2-1 at 1:35.
The Mavericks kept pressing on offense and took a 3-1 lead midway through the frame when Rooney picked up a loose puck on the right side of the crease and roofed it over the shoulder of Dubielewicz at 11:32.
“I am not pleased with the outcome of tonight’s game,” said Denver head coach George Gwoezdecky. “We played a very average game tonight and that is not going to win games at this point of the season. They made the most of their chances tonight and we were unable to finish in front of the net. There is no question, we need to be better tomorrow.”
Denver will conclude this WCHA series with MSU-Mankato on Saturday, February 3. Face-off is slated for 7:05 p.m.