MINNEAPOLIS — Connor James scored the game-winning goal and added an assist to lead the No. 6 Denver Pioneers to a big 4-3 win over two-time NCAA Champion, No. 10 Minnesota, in WCHA action tonight at Mariucci Arena. Senior Adam Berkhoel made 31 saves and sophomore Gabe Gauthier added two assists as Denver gained the series split.
James gave Denver a 4-3 lead just 51 seconds into the third period. He scored in the low crease off a nice feed from Gauthier. Berkhoel, who was pulled last night after allowing four Minnesota goals, came back with a great effort in net tonight. He faced a total of 34 shots and allowed only three goals to gain his fourth win of the season. Berkhoel came up big and didn’t allow a goal in the last minute when Minnesota pulled goaltender Kellen Briggs for a six-on-five advantage.
Grant Potulny’s no-look wrap-around wrist shot put Minnesota ahead 1-0 at 8:09 of the first period. However, Denver quickly responded with three straight goals to take a 3-1 lead. Senior Greg Keith tied the game for the Pioneers with a blast from the high slot at 9:36 and consecutive power plays goals from junior Jon Foster and senior Ryan Caldwell gave Denver a two-goal lead.
Minnesota went on the power play and cut the lead to 3-2 when Thomas Vanek scored at 14:59. Denver outshot Minnesota 13-8 in the period and went two-of-four on the power play.
Minnesota tied the game at 3-3 on Vanek’s second goal of the game at 11:37 of the second period. Vanek tipped in his own rebound in the low slot on a great individual effort.
Denver, which outshot Minnesota 35-34, improves to 5-1 overall and 1-1 in the WCHA. The Pioneers went two-of-five on the power play, committed only four penalties and held Minnesota to just two power-play opportunities. The Golden Gophers fall to 2-4 overall and 1-3 in the WCHA.