ST. CLOUD, Minn. — There’s a possibility George Gwozdecky might ask the WCHA schedulers to keep his team on the road for the rest of the season. With the way his team as been playing away from the confines of Magness Arena, the idea might not be too farfetched.
Adam Berkhoel made 33 saves and Gabe Gauthier scored twice and assisted on another as No. 10 Denver beat sixth ranked St. Cloud State 4-1 before an announced crowed of 6,052 at the National Hockey Center.
The win moved the Pioneers’ road record to 7-1-1, and more importantly, kept them within shouting distance of the WCHA-leading Huskies.
“We’ve been good on the road,” said Berkhoel, who improved to 2-1 in his home state this year — which includes the split he had at Minnesota over Halloween weekend. “We’ve got three more games on the road ahead of us (two at Minnesota State next weekend) so we need to make the most of it, start getting some W’s and catch up to the big dogs in the league, because pretty soon some teams are going to start running away with it.”
Which was something St. Cloud State wanted to start doing Friday night, and it looked like they might as the Huskies controlled the first. St. Cloud outshot Denver 17-7 in the opening 20 minutes — but only got one by Berkhoel as the teams skated to a 1-1 deadlock in the first.
Adrian Viedeman gave the Pioneers the lead just over 12 minutes in, knocking a centering pass from Gauthier out of mid-air and over Adam Coole’s outstretched glove.
Andy Lundbohm got his second of the season three minutes later to tie it, following up his original shot that glanced off the crossbar and burying it past Berkhoel. But that was all the senior would allow.
“Adam was Adam,” said Gwozdecky, whose team improved to 10-5-2 on the year and 4-5-2 in the WCHA. “What he showed tonight is what he’s capable of doing. Now, do we have to sit back and let him win a game for us? I hope not, but he won that first period for us and let us come out of the first tied.”
His team responded with a much better second, and Gauthier got Denver the lead back 1:14 into the period. Luke Fulghum took a shot to the left of Coole, who made the save but let the puck trickle behind him. Gauthier was there to swipe it into the vacant net.
The Pioneers gave Berkhoel a little more cushion 2:13 into the third courtesy of some hustle by Jon Foster, who beat a pair of Husky defenders to the slot and whistled a shot that ricocheted of the left post and past Coole.
“That was huge to get a little bit of breathing room,” said Berkhoel.
But he wouldn’t even need Foster’s goal. Berkhoel stuffed a pair of Brian McCormack chances from close in midway through the third, and shut the door on another short-range opportunity by Peter Szabo moments later.
“We had chances,” said St. Cloud State head coach Craig Dahl, who made a number of changes to his lineup in an attempt to generate some scoring but was without top scorer Mike Doyle, who hurt his leg in last Saturday’s loss to Colorado College.
“I thought we played really well and I told the guys that. We didn’t get a bounce tonight, that’s for sure … but we were getting a lot of those bounces early in the year and we were winning those games and the last couple of games we haven’t gotten them and we’ve lost.”
That’s a trend they will try and stop Saturday night in the rematch with Denver. If they could catch a quick flight to Colorado, maybe that win would be a little easier to come by.