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Record-Setting: Mannino Scoreless Streak Tops DU Charts, Pioneers Top Huskies

— With the outcome well in hand late, Denver freshman goalie Peter Mannino had a chance to come away with two school records in Saturday night’s game against St. Cloud State at the National Hockey Center, but only managed to bring home one in the No. 6 Pioneers’ 6-1 rout of the Huskies.

If it’s any consolation, Mannino, who finished with 33 saves, did break former Denver goaltender Wade Dubielewicz’s record of 158:26 of shutout time. Mannino finished with 178:16 of scoreless hockey.

“He didn’t get the record of three straight (shutouts) but he did beat Wade’s record,” said Denver head coach George Gwozdecky. “That’s pretty special considering the kind of goaltending that Wade Dubielewicz gave us his All-American year. That’s pretty special company for Peter, that’s for sure.”

Mannino was 5:52 away from finishing with a school record of three straight shutouts until his hopes were dashed on a play where all he could do was sit and watch the record disappear.

The freshman goalie lost control of a rebound from SCSU defenseman Matt Gens’ shot five minutes into the third period, and ended up on the ice without a helmet as a result of SCSU’s Nate Dey and Dave Iannazzo crashing the net. That left Husky junior Brock Hooton with a wide-open top shelf that he took advantage of with a wrister that nearly grazed Mannino’s unprotected head.

“It’s gotta end sometime,” Mannino said with a grin. “That’s the way I thought it was going to go. It kind of bounced around and I went down and saw (Hooton) grab it out front and he spun around and I knew it was going to end right there. It was a little disappointing to lose it but it had to happen sometime and my team played great for three games with me.”

After scoring five goals from just 14 shots in Friday night’s 5-2 victory over the Huskies, the WCHA’s top-ranked offense (No. 3 nationally, 4.09 goals per game coming in) started where they left off with a power-play goal on their first scoring opportunity 59 seconds into the game.

The Pioneers played tic-tac-toe starting with senior forward Luke Fulghum outside of the left circle. He zinged a pass behind the net to an awaiting Paul Stastny who flicked a quick backhand pass to the right post, where junior forward Gabe Gauthier finished with a one-timer past SCSU freshman goaltender Tim Boron stick-side.

Boron, who pulled himself out of Friday’s game due to dizziness and nausea after letting in two goals, didn’t get much sympathy from the Pioneers Saturday night either.

Denver sophomore J.D. Corbin kept DU’s groove going by sailing an up-ice pass to Mike Handza, who was then off to a 2-on-1 odd man rush with fellow sophomore linemate Ryan Helgason on the right side, and only SCSU defenseman Grant Clafton between the two. Handza’s shot went off Boron’s right leg, but Helgason polished off the rebound near the left post for his second goal in two nights giving him his fourth goal of the season.

Fulghum stretched the Pioneer lead to 3-0 in the second period on a play that took some talent and a touch of luck. He streaked down to the left circle and slammed on the brakes, faking Husky defenseman Aaron Brocklehurst off his skates. Fulghum sent a pass to the right circle to freshman Andrew Thomas, who sent it right back for a Fulghum blast that hit Husky defenseman Grant Clafton in the back and redirected past Boron at the 4:46 mark.

Mannino then put on a show later in the second period by first stopping Hooton’s breakaway with a left pad save and moments later stopping a Peter Szabo one-timer from the right circle.

Mannino, who now has a 1.32 goals against average in his last six consecutive victories, did benefit from a strong defensive effort by the Pioneers. DU blocked 24 Husky shots, yet it’s hard to overlook a two-game, 11-goal onslaught.

SCSU head coach Craig Dahl noticed the progression in Denver’s offense overnight.

“I think (Denver) played a little harder than they did last night and they capitalized on their chances and there’s a reason why they are one of the highest scoring teams in the country,” said Dahl. “You know you’re not going to win any games usually when you get only 14 shots on net, but last night they stole the game and were very fortunate I felt on getting the goals they did. Tonight they were just good.”

Denver senior Jeff Drummond summarized just how good they can be on a persistent play when he followed his own blocked shot untouched from the right circle and tucked the puck under Boron’s right leg at the 14:29 mark of the second period to stretch the lead to 4-0.

After Hooton scored SCSU’s lone goal of the game at the 14:08 mark of the third period, the Pioneers answered just over a minute later when junior defenseman Brett Skinner backhanded a pass from near the right boards to the crease where freshman Geoff Paukovich poked the puck past Boron.

Freshman forward Paul Stastny sealed the victory with a breakaway goal between Boron’s legs at the 17:17 mark.

Denver, which has now only lost one of its last 12 games, moves to 16-6-1 (11-4-1 WCHA). The Huskies, who dropped to 9-15-2 (5-13-0 WCHA), seem to be plummeting in the opposite direction having won only one of their last 10 games, while losing their last seven home games.

Denver’s dominance over SCSU continued as the Pioneers polished off the four-game season sweep (six straight against the Huskies) outscoring them 29-9.

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