Denver Finds Way Back Into WCHA Finals
March 20, 2009
Marc Cheverie (Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia) stopped 42 shots and three players scored as No. 4 Denver blanked Wisconsin, 3-0, in the semifinals of the 2009 Red Baron WCHA Final Five this afternoon before 14,722 fans at Xcel Energy Center.
DU improves to 23-10-5 and advances to the championship game tomorrow night against North Dakota (24-12-4) or Minnesota Duluth (19-12-8). Defending WCHA playoff champion Denver seeks its unprecedented 16th playoff title while improving to 7-1 at Xcel Energy Center. Wisconsin falls to 19-16-4.
Brian Gifford (Moorhead, Minn.), Kyle Ostrow (Calgary, Alberta) and Patrick Wiercioch (Maple Ridge, British Columbia) scored for Denver, which improved to 5-0 against the Badgers with its third consecutive win. The win was also DU's first against Wisconsin in 12 postseason games.
"I really liked our business-like approach to this afternoon's game," DU head coach George Gwozdecky said. "We made some mistakes at times, but Cheverie was there to bail us out. We're here to win this championship and we'll take our best shot tomorrow night."
Gifford slapped a laser past Shane Connelly (26 saves) from the left faceoff circle at 15:20 of the opening stanza to give DU a 1-0 lead. Wisconsin outshot DU, 17-14, in the period but Cheverie stopped all 17 shots.
Ostrow scooted down the slot and beat Connelly high to the stick side to give the Pioneers a 2-0 lead at 13:40 of the second period. Luke Salazar (Thornton, Colo.) and Patrick Mullen (Pittsburgh, Pa.) tallied helpers on Ostrow's 14th goal.
Wiercioch iced the game for DU with a power-play goal at 6:01 of the third. Mullen and Joe Colborne (Calgary, Alberta) earned assists on Wiercioch's 12th goal.
The shutout was Cheverie's fourth of the season and second consecutive against Wisconsin. Wisconsin outshot Denver, 42-29, but DU went 1-for-2 on the power play and 5-for-5 on the penalty kill.
Notes: Wiercioch has 4-6--10 in five career games against Wisconsin...DU is fourth in the latest PairWise Rankings...DU's five wins against Wisconsin this season marks a school record...DU has posted a 69-53-6 all-time record in the WCHA Playoffs, which includes a league-leading 15 playoff titles...The Pioneers have notched at least one power-play goal in their last 11 games and are 16-for-53 (30.2%) during that stretch.