Feb. 5, 2009

The No. 6/8 Denver Pioneers (16-8-3, 12-6-2 WCHA) play at No. 17 Minnesota Duluth (14-8-6, 8-7-5 WCHA) on Feb. 6-7. Puck drop is set for 6:07 p.m. MT each night at the DECC. Friday's game will be televised live on the NHL Network and broacast live locally on AM 560. Both games will be audiocast on www.DenverPioneers.com.

THIS WEEKEND’S STORYLINES

• DU leads the WCHA with 26 points, while Minnesota Duluth is tied for fourth with 21 points.

• The Pioneers swept (5-1, 2-1) a two-game series against Duluth earlier this season.

• DU sports a four-game winning streak against the Bulldogs.

• This series features the top two goaltenders in the WCHA in Alex Stalock (13-8-6, 2.15 GAA, .925 Sv%) and Marc Cheverie (16-8-3, 2.40, .915 Sv%).

FOR OPENERS
• DU is tied for seventh with Minnesota and Northeastern in the latest PairWise Rankings.
• The Pioneers are 4-4-1 on the road, 9-4-2 against ranked opponents and and 3-3-2 in 2009 after starting the season 13-5-1.
• Denver is second in the WCHA in scoring offense at 3.59 gpg and second in scoring defense at 2.44.
• Rhett Rakhshani is DU’s career scoring leader with 6-5--11 in 10 career games against the Bulldogs.
• Goaltender Marc Cheverie is 2-0 with a 1.00 GAA and .968 Sv% in two career starts against Minnesota Duluth.

LAST TIME VS. MINNESOTA DULUTH
DU charted 5-1 and 2-1 victories over the Bulldogs on Nov. 7-8. Luke Salazar netted two goals, including the game-winner, and Marc Cheverie made 34 saves in the 5-1 win. Tyler Ruegsegger’s power-play goal at 8:16 of the third period gave DU a 2-1 win and series sweep on Nov. 8. Cheverie stopped 27 shots and was named WCHA Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts. DU scored two power-play goals in each win.

PLAYER NOTES
• Marc Cheverie (16-8-3) is tied for first in WCHA winning percentage (.648), and second in goals against average (2.40) and saves percentage (.915). Cheverie is 16-8-3 with a 2.34 GAA and .916 Sv% in 32 career games. Cheverie has stopped 23 or more shots in 19 of 27 games. Backup goaltender Lars Paulgaard is 0-0-0 with a 1.61 GAA and .917 Sv% in four games.
• Leading scorer Anthony Maiani has tallied a career-high 9-24--33 this season after netting 7-8--15 as a freshman. Maiani is tied for third in WCHA scoring and assists. Maiani has scoring points in 21 of 27 games. He netted 3-13--16 during his career-best, 11-game point streak from Nov. 21-Jan. 9.
• Tyler Bozak (7-14--21) has missed the last nine games with a knee injury. Bozak is expected to miss the rest of the regular season.
• Rhett Rakhshani (11-14--25) had 4-5--9 during his career-high, eight-game point streak from Dec. 13-Jan. 30.
• Luke Salazar (13-6--19) ranks second among all NCAA rookies with 13 goals.
• Patrick Wiercioch (9-12--21) leads all NCAA freshmen blueliners in goals and points. Wiercioch and Joe Colborne (6-15--21) are tied for fifth in WCHA rookie scoring.
• Kyle Ostrow (8-11--19) leads the WCHA with four GWGs.

SPECIAL TEAMS
• DU is fourth in the WCHA on the penalty kill at 86.6% and eighth on the power play at 14.4%.

DU ALL-TIME VS. MINNESOTA DULUTH
The Pioneers hold a 103-69-9 advantage over Minnesota Duluth in the series that dates back to
1961. The Bulldogs own a 37-34-5 mark against Denver in Duluth. Denver is 4-1-1 in its last six games in Duluth. The Pioneers are 4-1 in their last five games against Duluth and 7-3 in their last 10.

SCOUTING THE BULLDOGS
The Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs are playing their best hockey of the season. Duluth has won five of its last six games, including two-game sweeps of Bemidji State and Minnesota State. The Bulldogs split (1-3, 1-0) a two-game set at Wisconsin last weekend. Goaltender Alex Stalock has posted three shutouts, while sophomore Justin Fontaine is second in WCHA scoring with 12-23--35 with a league-leading nine power-play goals. MacGregor Sharp has added 11-15--26, and Mike and Jack Connolly are tied for third in WCHA rooking scoring with 22 points each. Duluth is first in the WCHA in scoring defense at 2.29 gpg and seventh in scoring offense at 2.93 gpg. The Bulldogs rank second in the WCHA on the power play at 21.2% and eighth on the penalty kill at 80.5%. Head coach Scott Sandelin has posted a 136-168-43 record in nine seasons at Duluth.

ABOUT THE 2008-09 DU PIONEERS
The Pioneers are 3-3-2 since Jan. 2. DU split a two-game series last weekend against Alaska Anchorage. DU is averaging 3.1 gpg without top playmaker Tyler Bozak. DU was averaging 3.8 gpg with Bozak in the lineup for the first 18 games. DU continues to receive strong goaltending from Marc Cheverie and features 11 players with 10 or more points. DU is led by captain J.P. Testwuide (2-8--10), and alternate captains Rhett Rakhshani (11-14--25) and Tyler Ruegsegger (9-7--16). Rakhshani (35-54--89), Patrick Mullen (18-57--75) and Ruegsegger (34-38--72) are DU’s top current career scoring leaders. Testwuide leads the team in penalties (32) and penalty minutes (94). Cheverie, who has started all 27 games in net, stopped a career-high 41 shots in DU’s 3-1 win over Ohio State on Oct. 24 and has posted two shutouts.

MULLEN AND VOSSBERG CANDIDATES FOR POSTSEASON AWARDS
Senior Patrick Mullen and junior Brandon Vossberg are candidates for major postseason awards. Mullen is one of 20 candidates for the 2009 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award. The award honors players who have combined excellence in athletics, academics and community service. Former Pioneers Glenn Fisher (2007) and Peter Mannino (2008) were top-10 finalists for the award. Vossberg is one of 21 candidates for the prestigious 2009 Bank of New York Mellon Hockey Humanitarian Award, given annually to college hockey's finest citizen.

INJURY UPDATE
Tyler Bozak (knee) and Joey Brehm (hernia) are out this weekend. Jesse Martin (lower body) is questionable, Chris Nutini (shoulder) is doubtful and Lars Paulgaard (back) is probable.

WHO’S HOT?
Dustin Jackson (2-7--9), Brian Gifford (2-5--7), Kyle Ostrow (8-11--19) and J.P. Testwuide (2-8--10) each bring two-game point streaks into this weekend’s series.
 
MORE ON THE POWER PLAY AND PENALTY KILL
The Pioneers are 2-for-19 (10.5%) on the power play in their last two games. DU has tallied two or more power-play goals in nine games including a season-high three against Wisconsin on Oct. 18. DU is 13-for-15 (86.6%) on the penalty kill in its last three games.

COLBORNE AND WIERCIOCH TOP DRAFT PICKS
Freshmen Joe Colborne and Patrick Wiercioch are the two highest NHL draft selections during head coach George Gwozdecky’s 15 seasons at DU. Colborne became DU’s second first-round NHL draft pick when Boston selected the forward No. 16 overall last June. Wiercioch was selected No. 42 overall by Ottawa.

CARLE NAMED STUDENT ASSISTANT COACH
Freshman David Carle is serving as a student assistant coach for DU this season. Carle was forced to retire from competitive hockey prior to the 2008 NHL Entry Draft and his freshman season at DU after being diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). The disease is a thickening of the myocardium, which is the leading cause of sudden cardiac death in young athletes. Carle is writing a bi-weekly blog on ESPNU.com.

COLORADO FLAVOR
The 2008-09 DU roster sports seven Coloradans. Jon Cook (Denver), Stephen Cunningham (Boulder), Chris Nutini, (Centennial), Tyler Ruegsegger (Lakewood), John Ryder (Colorado Springs), Luke Salazar (Thornton) and J.P. Testwuide (Vail) all hail from the Centennial State. Testwuide is the first Coloradan and ninth consecutive defenseman to captain the Pioneers.

OH BROTHER!
Freshman John Lee is the younger brother of former North Dakota and current Ottawa Senators defenseman Brian Lee. Student assistant coach David Carle is the younger brother of former Pioneer and current Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Matt Carle. DU captain J.P. Testwuide is the older brother of Colorado College forward Mike Testwuide, while Jon Cook is the younger brother of former Pioneer Steven Cook.

HALL OF FAME SON
Senior defenseman Patrick Mullen is the son of U.S. Hockey Hall of Famer Joe Mullen. Patrick’s dad tallied 1,063 points, including 502 goals, in 16 NHL seasons and helped the Calgary Flames (1989) and Pittsburgh Penguins (1991 and 1992) to Stanley Cup championships. Joe Mullen is currently an assistant coach with the Philadelphia Flyers.

DU VS. RANKED TEAMS
DU is 9-4-2 against ranked teams this season and 41-30-6 against ranked teams over the last four seasons.

MAGNESS = HOME ICE ADVANTAGE
The Pioneers are 127-63-7 (.662) all-time in 10 years of competition at Magness Arena. The Pioneers are 12-4-2 at home this year after posting a 16-4-1 mark in 2007-08.

CHAMPIONSHIP HOCKEY
The Pioneers are tied for second in NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey with seven NCAA National Championships. DU captured national championships in 1958, 1960, 1961, 1968, 1969, 2004
and 2005.

PIONEERS IN THE PROS
Chris Butler (Buffalo), Paul Stastny (Colorado), Matt Pettinger (Tampa Bay), Matt Carle (Philadelphia), Peter Mannino (New York Islanders) and Wade Dubielewicz (Columbus) are former standouts representing the Pioneers in the NHL.

ON THE HORIZON
DU plays at Colorado College on Feb. 13.