DENVER — Sophomore Connor James scored two goals and sophomore Max Bull added a shorthanded tally as second-ranked Denver completed a two-game Western Collegiate Hockey Association sweep over Wisconsin with a 5-1 win Saturday.
Sophomore goaltender Adam Berkhoel needed just 18 saves to earn his ninth victory of the year as the Pioneers improved to a NCAA-best 18-2-0, 13-1-0 in the WCHA. The victory marked the first sweep of Wisconsin in Denver for the Pioneers since October 16 and 17, 1987.
Wisconsin, after being held scoreless by the Pioneers Friday night, opened the game with a flurry of shots on Berkhoel and celebrated a goal four minutes into the contest. Badger defenseman Rob Vega fired a point-blank shot from the blue line towards the net. As Berkhoel ducked down to stop the puck, Rene Bourque poked his stick out and chipped the puck over his shoulder.
The goal gave the Badgers their first lead of the weekend series.
The Pioneers, unaccustomed to trailing this season, evened the score late in the first with a goal by James, set up when senior defenseman Erik Adams fed James, standing all alone near the right side of the crease, who tapped the biscuit into the web to tally his team-leading 11th marker of the season, his second in as many nights.
The resurgent Denver squad fed off of the momentum and took its first lead of the game three minutes, five seconds later. Junior Kevin Doell chipped the puck by Badger keeper Bernd Bruckler to register his eighth goal of the season and give the Pioneers a 2-1 lead at the first intermission.
Denver appeared to extend its lead twice during a five-minute power play late in the second stanza, but Wisconsin, with the help of two disallowed goals, held the Pioneers’ special-teams unit scoreless.
Less than a minute later the Badgers were granted five minutes with an extra attacker, but a shorthanded goal by Bull extinguished Wisconsin’s advantage and gave the Pioneers a comfortable 3-1 lead after two periods. Bull took the puck at center ice and sailed by a Badger defenseman before roofing a shot over Bruckler for his fourth goal of the year.
With just over five minutes to play in the game, James notched his second goal of the night. Pioneer freshman Jeff Drummond wristed a shot on net from the left side that Bruckler stopped. The rebound shot high in the air out front, and Bruckler lost sight of the puck as James slapped it into the empty half of the net.
With just 33 seconds remaining on the clock, sophomore Lukas Dora made it a four-goal advantage as he put the puck past Bruckler.
Wisconsin managed just 19 shots on goal, while the Pioneers put 34 shots on Bruckler for the evening.