Nov. 23, 2008

Courtesy of Minnesota

For the first time all season the bounces didn't go Minnesota's way as the Gophers had their season-opening 11-game unbeaten streak snapped in a 4-0 shutout loss at Denver on Saturday.

Minnesota, the nation's top-ranked team failed to score two goals in a game for the first time this season and surrendered a season-high goal total. The Gophers also had scored power play goals in eight straight games and saw senior Ryan Stoa's point-scoring streak snapped at 11 games. It was the first loss for the top-ranked Gophers, who are now 7-1-4 overall and remained in first place in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association at 4-1-3. Denver avoided its first four-game losing streak in eight years and is now 7-5-1 overall and 5-4-1 in the league. Pioneers' sophomore goaltender Mark Cheverie made 34 saves for his first career shutout.

Denver, which dressed four players who were not in the lineup for Friday’s 5-2 Gophers’ victory, came out strong in the first period and scored the game’s first goal at 4:39 of the first period on an off-angle shot by Tyler Bozak, who scored his ninth goal in two seasons against Minnesota. Gophers’ goaltender Alex Kangas made an outstanding save on Bozak’s initial shot, but he followed up the rebound from behind the goalline and his shot slid through Kangas’ pads. The Gophers had posted six consecutive shutout first periods against conference opponents prior to the goal.

The Pioneers put 14 shots on goal in the first period, which was the most allowed in an opening period by the Gophers this season. The momentum carried over into the second period as Denver had nine of the period’s first 12 shots and scored a power play goal by Anthony Maiani at the 4:45 mark. Maiani was parked in front of the goal and slammed in a pass from Patrick Wiercioch at the point to snap the Gophers’ streak of 25 straight successful penalty kills. It was also just the third five-on-four power play goal allowed by Minnesota this season.

The Gophers had 10 of their 12 second period shots in the final 11 minutes of the frame and several quality chances, but none better than that of Taylor Matson, who was on a two-on-one breakout with Justin Bostrom and had his shot stopped under the pad of Cheverie and sit on the goalline before being cleared by a Pioneers’ defender.

Gloves came off at the end of the second period with Denver’s J.P. Testwuide getting a major penalty and Minnesota being assessed two minor penalties. Minnesota killed off a four-on-three power play and followed with a three-minute power play, but managed just one shot during the man-advantage.

Just over a minute later, Denver extended its lead to 3-0 on a hustling goal by Rhett Rakhshani. His original shot was saved by Kangas, but the puck bounced loose in the crease and Rakhshani raced from behind the net to pounce on the puck and slide it past Kangas at the 6:14 mark.

Minnesota had three more power plays in the third period, but Denver scored the only goal when Brandon Vossberg stole the puck at the blueline and converted a breakaway for the first shorthanded goal allowed by the Gophers this season.

The Gophers were 0-for-6 on the power play for the game, while Denver was 1-for-7. Minnesota owned a 34-31 advantage in shots, including an 11-6 edge in the third period. It was the Gophers’ final away game of the first half of the season as they return home next weekend for the College Hockey Showcase on Friday against Michigan and Saturday against Michigan State at Mariucci Arena.