Preview: Denver Cup

Denver Cup
Denver, Friday-Saturday, Dec. 30-31, 2005

Game 1: Ferris State vs. No. 4 Boston College, 4:05 p.m. MT

Ferris State Bulldogs (8-6-4, 4-4-4 CCHA)
Head coach: Bob Daniels
Leading scorers: Sr. F Greg Rallo (10-12–22), Jr. F Mark Bomersback (7-10–17), Fr. F Dan Riedel (3-13–16)
Leading netminder: Fr. Mitch O’Keefe (6-4-4, 2.71, .901)

Boston College Eagles (9-4-1, 8-2-1 Hockey East)
Head coach: Jerry York
Leading scorers: Sr. F Chris Collins (12-9–21), So. F Dan Bertram (5-10–15), Jr. F Brian Boyle (4-10–14)
Leading netminder: So. Cory Schneider (9-4-1, 2.28, .911)

Game 2: Princeton at No. 13 Denver, 7:05 p.m. MT

Princeton Tigers (4-10-0, 2-8-0 ECACHL)
Head coach: Guy Gadowsky
Leading scorers: Jr. F Grant Goeckner-Zoeller (6-4–10), Fr. F Brett Wilson (5-4–9), Jr. F Kevin Westgarth (2-7–9)
Leading netminder: Sr. Eric Leroux (2-6-0, 2.42, .922)

Denver Pioneers (11-7-2, 8-4-2 WCHA)
Head coach: George Gwozdecky
Leading scorers: So. F Paul Stastny (5-23–28), Jr. D Matt Carle (8-19–27), So. F Ryan Dingle (14-8–22)
Leading netminders: Jr. Glenn Fisher (5-3-2, 2.37, .911), So. Peter Mannino (6-4-0, 2.42, .909)

Tournament outlook: Each of the “Big Four” conferences is represented, and the lure of a potential Boston College-Denver matchup in the final sparkles in this year’s Denver Cup. Trying to deny that possibility will be Ferris State, which after a couple of tough seasons is back over .500 coming into the holiday tournaments. The Bulldogs have a balanced lineup, with the scoring led by Greg Rallo, who appears poised to meet the promise of his freshman season, averaging over a point per game so far. Mitch O’Keefe has been a steady presence in net. The Bulldogs’ opponent, Boston College, has been consistently solid all season; the Eagles have five wins in their last six games coming into the Denver Cup. But BC will be without some key names thanks to the World Junior Championship, including netminder Cory Schneider and forward Nate Gerbe. Still, there’s enough scoring in the Eagles lineup, led by the surging Chris Collins, who could set a new career high for points this weekend in just half a season.

Denver takes on Princeton in the other semi. The Tigers, in head coach Guy Gadowsky’s second year, are light on offense (only Grant Goeckner-Zoeller is in double digits in points) and have just four wins, but have been in most games this season thanks to defense and goaltending, led by netminder Eric Leroux, and the nation’s sixth-most efficient penalty kill. The host Pioneers, the two-time defending NCAA champions, suffered through a five-game winless streak in November, but have won six of their last seven in bounceback mode. The Pioneers feature the scoring of Paul Stastny and the two-way play of star defenseman Matt Carle, as well as the one-two punch in net of Glenn Fisher and last season’s Frozen Four MVP, Peter Mannino. Both netminders have goals against averages under 2.50, and are backed by solid special-teams play.