DULUTH, Minn. — Denver improved to 7-0-0 in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association with an 8-2 whipping of Minnesota-Duluth. The victory moved the Pioneers to 10-1-0 overall.
Freshman Kevin Ulanski — seeing action for the first time in six games — was inserted into the lineup due to a slight shoulder injury to junior Matt Weber and responded with a goal and two assists, playing on the Pioneers’ top line with senior Chris Paradise and sophomore Connor James. The trio combined for three goals and six assists.
“I was really pleased tonight with the way our team played,” said Denver head coach George Gwozdecky.
With the game’s first power play, Minnesota-Duluth broke the scoring at 4:04 of the opening period. With traffic in front of Denver goalie Wade Dubielewicz, a Bulldog shot from the point was blocked out front. The rebound found a UMD skater who beat the Pioneers’ goalie.
Denver evened the score just 49 seconds later when James forced a UMD turnover at center ice and chipped the puck up to Paradise. Paradise gained the blue line, took the puck wide and centered a pass that found senior Jesse Cook all alone in front of Bulldog goaltender Adam Coole. Cook redirected the puck into the net for his first tally of the season.
Denver took its first lead at 14:16. With the Pioneers’ first power play of the night, freshman Jon Foster gained control of a long rebound and sent the puck over a sprawled out Coole.
Just over two minutes later, the Pioneers extended that lead to two goals when Ulanski notched his first career goal, again on the power play. After outshooting the Bulldogs by a 15-8 margin, Denver took a 3-1 lead into the locker room at the first intermission.
Both teams traded goals in the second period. Denver notched the first to take a three-goal lead when senior Bryan Vines notched his first goal of the season. Juniors Greg Barber and Kevin Doell each picked up the assists to extend their scoring streaks. Barber extended his point streak to nine games, while Doell pushed his to seven.
That goal prompted Minnesota-Duluth to burn its lone timeout and make a goaltending change, bringing in Rob Anderson. With 5:25 left to play in the middle stanza, UMD cut the lead back to two goals with another power-play tally. Through 40 minutes of play, both teams managed two power-play goals in three tries.
Despite controlling most of the action in the first few minutes of the third period, the Bulldogs could not keep Denver from erupting for four goals en route to the 8-2 victory. In the final 20 minutes of play, the Pioneers got two goals from James and one each from junior Jason Grahame and sophomore Max Bull to earn the win.
Dubielewicz finished the game with 31 saves, 14 coming in the final period.
“I think the first guy that would tell you he wasn’t very consistent in the first two periods was Wade Dubielewicz,” said Gwozdecky. “We challenged him at the second intermission and he came out and played typical Wade Dubielewicz hockey in the third.”
Denver and UMD will conclude the two-game series Saturday night at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center.