DENVER — Led by a career-high five assists from junior defenseman Matt Carle, the No. 9 Pioneers extended their season-best winning streak to six games with a 7-4 win against Minnesota State Friday in front of 6,128 fans at Magness Arena.
Carle, a candidate for the Hobey Baker Award, increased his point total to a WCHA-leading 45 (11 goals, 34 assists) while sophomore center Paul Stastny tied a career-high with four points (2 goals, 2 assists).
The Pioneers (17-10-2, 14-5-2 WCHA) continued to have success on their WCHA-best power-play unit, going 5-for-9 on the man advantage. DU junior goaltender Glenn Fisher picked up his eighth win of the season and stopped 20 shots by Minnesota State (12-15-4, 8-12-3 WCHA).
The win moved DU into a three-way tie with Minnesota and Wisconsin for first place in the WCHA.
“It was a very physical game tonight, but the good thing is that we got two points,” DU head coach George Gwozdecky said. “Our guys are starting to do the little things better with more consistency, like blocking shots, which is critical for us at this point.”
A fast-paced first period saw both teams combine for eight goals, including five power-play tallies, with DU setting a season high for goals in a period in taking a 5-3 lead into the first intermission. Carle totaled four assists in the first period, helping the Pioneers go 3-4 on the power play in the opening frame.
DU took a 2-0 lead in the contest, scoring both of its goals 30 seconds apart. Sophomore center Geoff Paukovich beat goaltender Dan Tormey high to the stick side on a slap shot on the power play at 7:07 before Stastny’s wrap-around goal from Carle put the Pioneers ahead 2-0 at 7:37 of the first period.
Minnesota State responded by scoring three consecutive goals to take a 3-2 lead 10:42 into the opening period. Two of the goals came on the power play as part of an extra-man unit that finished the game 2-8.
Carle assisted on each of DU’s final three goals of the period, including power-play scores by freshman defenseman Chris Butler at 12:01 and by senior left wing Gabe Gauthier at 13:45, to put the Pioneers ahead 5-3 at the first intermission. DU junior right wing J.D. Corbin also notched an even-strength goal at 12:44 by skating past MSU defenseman Jon Dubel down the left side to the front of the net where he slide the puck past Tormey for the score.
The second period remained scoreless until Stastny’s power-play goal from Carle at 16:37 extended the Pioneers’ lead to 6-3. A little more than a minute later, Minnesota State answered with an unassisted goal from defenseman Steve Wagner to cut its deficit to two goals.
The Pioneers scored once more in the third period on sophomore left wing Ryan Dingle’s power-play goal at 16:19 with the assist going to Gauthier.
Denver finished the game with a 30-to-24 advantage in shots. The Mavericks’ Tormey allowed five goals on 10 shots before being replaced 13:45 into the first period by Chris Clark, who allowed two goals on 20 shots.
DU wraps up its series against Minnesota State on Saturday night at Magness Arena looking for its third consecutive sweep of a WCHA opponent. Puck drop is set for 7:07 p.m. MST.