On a night when head coach George Gwozdecky continued to experiment with line combinations, playing without three of the team’s regular forwards, Denver found plenty of offense in defeating Minnesota State-Mankato 6-1 Friday. Junior goaltender Wade Dubielewicz made 34 saves in earning his seventh win of the year.
Denver (13-2-0, 10-1-0 WCHA) was without senior David Neale, junior Greg Barber and freshman Jon Foster, but still managed to earn a convincing victory.
Both teams traded chances in the first period, but the goaltenders stood strong, keeping the game scoreless through 20 minutes of play.
Denver’s best opportunity came with just over six minutes remaining in the period. Junior J.J. Hartmann took the puck behind the net, got loose from his defender and walked out in front of Mankato goalie Jason Jensen. Hartmann made a move on Jensen, forced the goaltender to commit and then tapped the puck off the post.
At the 18:05 mark, the Mavericks saw its best scoring chance thwarted by Dubielewicz. Off a centering pass, MSU’s leading scorer Nate Mauer let a one-timer fly that was labeled for the far side, but Dubielewicz somehow managed to slide across the crease for a great save.
Dubielewicz stopped all 11 Mankato shots, while Denver was forced to kill three penalties.
After killing 1:15 of a penalty, Denver sophomore defenseman Ryan Callwell skated out of the penalty box, took a breakout pass from sophomore Connor James and, with seemingly all the time in the world, beat Jensen to give the Pioneers a 1-0 advantage.
Just six seconds into Denver’s second power play, senior Chris Paradise sent a slapshot on net from the point that beat Jensen, giving the Pioneers a two-goal lead with 3:49 gone by in the middle stanza.
On their third power play, the Pioneers were credited with a strange goal. James took a great pass from his teammate at the right of the MSU crease. His shot was stopped by Jensen, but the puck came out front to a Maverick defenseman, who was forced to play the puck quickly as the Pioneers were swarming the net. Trying to simply slap the puck back to the boards and out of harm’s way, the MSU defenseman accidentally put the puck into the net. The goal was credited to James, his eighth of the year.
With just over three minutes left in the second, and on its sixth power play of the night, Minnesota State ended Dubielewicz’s shutout when Tim Jackman took a drop pass just over the blue line and beat the Denver netminder. That snapped the Pioneers’ streak of 20 consecutive penalty kills.
Through 40 minutes of play, the Mavericks outshot the Pioneers 24-22, but it was Denver taking a 3-1 lead into the second intermission.
With 7:39 remaining in the third period, the Pioneers extended their lead to 4-1 when sophomore Greg Keith took a centering pass from fellow sophomore Max Bull and beat Jensen.
With 1:52 left to play, Denver pushed that lead to 5-1 on its seventh power play. Senior Jesse Cook sent a shot on net that sophomore Lukas Dora redirected past the Mankato goalie.
Just 59 seconds later, freshman Kevin Ulanski took a great pass from sophomore Dora and slipped the puck into the open side of the net. That was all the scoring in the third stanza as Denver skated to the 6-1 win.
The Pioneers and Mavericks will conclude the conference series with the finale Saturday night. Denver and MSU-Mankato will face off at 6:05 p.m. MT.