Holiday Tourney Preview: Wells Fargo Denver Cup

The Details

Who: No. 5 Boston College (10-3-2), No. 2 Denver (11-5-2), Nebraska-Omaha (9-7-4), St. Lawrence (8-7-2)

When: Friday, Jan. 1 and Saturday, Jan. 2

Where: Magness Arena, Denver

Tickets: Click here (new window)

Friday’s games: Boston College vs. St. Lawrence, 4:30 p.m. Mountain; Denver vs. Nebraska-Omaha, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday’s games: Nebraska-Omaha vs. St. Lawrence, 4 p.m. Mountain; Boston College vs. Denver, 7 p.m.

About Boston College

The Eagles entered the holiday break as one of the nation’s hottest teams, carrying a seven-game unbeaten streak into the 2010 Denver Cup tournament. The Eagles will face ECAC foe St. Lawrence in the opening game, in search of their sixth straight win overall and their fourth victory in four tries out of conference.

BC’s offense is paced to this point by Brian Gibbons and Cam Atkinson, both of whom are operating at or above a point-a-game pace. John Muse, who started every game for the past two seasons, has split time of late with rookie Parker Milner in net. Both have been stellar though Milner entered the holiday break with a perfect 4-0-0 record.

BC last played in the Denver Cup in the 2005-06 season when it beat Ferris State in a shootout in the opening game before crushing Princeton, 5-1, in the title game.

About Denver

Going into this season, Denver was picked to win the WCHA, as it appeared to be the strongest team coming back. Though a few question marks were raised early about whether the Pioneers would live up to the hype, the team has answered in dominating fashion, leading the league at this point of the season, with no signs of slowing down.

Denver is led up front by seniors Rhett Rakhshani and Tyler Ruegsegger, who are both averaging just over a point a game, and by sophomore Joe Colborne and junior Jesse Martin. On the back end, the Pioneers are led by sophomore Patrick Wiercioch, a formidable two-way force when completely healthy and still dangerous even when he’s not. DU also found a defensive gem in freshman Matt Donovan, who will be missing his school’s tournament in favor of the World Juniors.

Finally, the Pioneers have one of the top goaltenders in the nation (top 10 in both save percentage and goals-against average) in junior Marc Cheverie, who has quietly put together a solid career.

About Nebraska-Omaha

The Mavericks began the season on a six-game streak without a loss, thanks to the early strong goaltending of sophomore John Faulkner and senior Jeremie Dupont. By the end of October, Faulkner had posted a .958 save percentage and looked to become the Mavericks starter. Now his numbers have returned to earth a bit (2.18 GAA, .915 SV%).

Faulkner doesn’t split time in net with Dupont, necessarily, but UNO coach Dean Blais (who will miss the tournament while coaching the United States at the World Juniors) plays Dupont after a loss he thinks Faulkner should have had — but then returns to Faulkner. The Mavericks ended the first half with two wins and a tie, and Faulkner was the goalie of record for all three of those games.

Blais is looking for consistency from his entire team, not just the goaltenders. The Mavs have struggled against every team ahead of them in the CCHA standings and have scored one more goal overall than they’ve allowed. Rich Purslow (8-6–14) and Jerry Agosta (7-6—13) lead UNO in goal scoring.

About St. Lawrence

The Saints started the year pretty hot, but cooled down as a couple significant injuries and some taxing road trips took their toll. Once 5-2-1, the Canton crew is now 8-7-2 and struggling to find the dependable transition game that has defined SLU for the past half-decade.

Joe Marsh’s charges have mustered only one win against a team with a better-than-.500 record (RIT), going 1-5-0 against such opponents. The defense has allowed three goals in four of its last five games, but the offense couldn’t getting it done as the Saints went 1-2-1 in that quartet. (The fifth game was also a loss, in the form of a 10-1 embarrassment at the hands of Maine.)

Freshman sensation Kyle Flanagan missed four games due to injury, but earned 11 points in his 13 games played nonetheless. Senior Mike McKenzie leads the team with a dozen points, but the trio of Derek Keller, Travis Vermeulen and Peter Child lead the team in goals (five). Rookie defender George Hughes has taken well to Marsh’s preferred style of play, notching 10 assists and a goal from the back, while Child’s 10 points put him one off Hughes’ pace.

The troika of Alex Petizian, Kain Tisi and Robby Moss has divvied up time in the crease, with the senior Tisi holding a clear statistical advantage with a .917 save rate and a 2.25 goals-against average.


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