ANCHORAGE — Peter Mannino posted his seventh career shutout with a sterling 38-save effort to lead the No. 12 Denver Pioneers to a 2-0 victory and series sweep over Alaska Anchorage before 3,621 fans tonight at Sullivan Arena. Freshman Brian Gifford netted his first career game-winning goal and fellow freshman Tyler Ruegsegger iced the win for the second consecutive night with an empty-netter and Mannino led the penalty-kill unit to a perfect 7-for-7 effort in DU’s third consecutive win.
The Pioneers gain sole possession of second place in the WCHA with 18 points and improve their record to 12-6-2 overall and 8-4-2 in league play. Anchorage falls to 8-8-2, 6-8-0 with its third consecutive loss.
“Peter turned in a sensational performance for us tonight,” DU head coach George Gwozdecky said. “Our guys really battled this weekend and earned themselves an early holiday present. This was arguably Peter’s best game as a Pioneer.”
DU held a 1-0 advantage for much of the game behind Mannino’s best outing of the season. Gifford one-timed a feed from Chris Butler from the top of the right faceoff circle on a 5-on-3 advantage at 17:28 for the game-winner with Rhett Rakhshani earned the other assist on the score. DU outshot the Seawolves 10-5 in the period.
The rest of the game belonged to Pioneer goaltender Mannino. The junior stopped all 21 Seawolf shots and keyed a penalty kill that thwarted a 5-on-3 advantage and three UAA power-play opportunities in the second period. The Pioneers were stopped on a 5-on-3 advantage of their own, but still held the one-goal advantage despite being outshot 21-6.
DU killed off another 5-on-3 Seawolf advantage for 1 minute and 34 seconds near the start of the third period. Ruegsegger ended UAA’s hopes of a tie or win with an empty-net goal at 18:57 of the third period. Mannino stopped all 12 UAA shots in the final stanza en route to his first shutout since Nov. 26, 2005, at Massachusetts.
UAA outshot DU 38-23, but couldn’t end the Pioneers’ dominance in Sullivan Arena. DU is 8-0-2 in its last 10 outings in Anchorage.
The Pioneers return to action against Mercyhurst at the 15th annual Wells Fargo Denver Cup on Dec. 29-30.