Pioneers Sweep Minnesota for First Time

DENVER – The University of Denver Pioneers made history
Saturday night in Magness Arena, recording the first season-sweep against the
University of Minnesota Gophers in the history of the program.

“It’s never been done before in 60 years,” Denver head coach
George Gwozdecky said. “Out of all the great teams – teams that have beaten the
Russians, we’ve had teams that have only lost one game in an entire season,
teams that have won back-to-back national titles, all those players – all those
great teams, nobody has every swept a four-game regular series from Minnesota
in 60 years.

“Once they understood they could be a small part of history,
that excited them.”

With the 5-1 win, the Pioneers (20-6-4, 14-4-4 WCHA)  regain a No. 1 lead in
the Western Collegiate Hockey Association with 32 points. Minnesota (13-15-2, 8-12-2 WCHA) is tied for
No. 7 with the University of Alaska-Anchorage.

Denver’s sophomore forward Joe Colborne continued a 12-game
point streak with a hat trick, scoring two of the goals on the power-play and
one shorthanded.

“I’ve never really been a shoot first guy,” Colborne said. “They’re
making me look pretty good out there.”

Marc Cheverie, was within seconds of his seventh shutout
this season when Minnesota’s forward Tony Lucia spoiled the bid.

“Obviously, you’d like to get the shutout,” Cheverie said.
“It would have been the icing on the cake, I guess, but that doesn’t overshadow
what the team accomplished tonight.”

Minnesota played their second-string goaltender Kent
Patterson Saturday, but Denver’s offense was much improved from Saturday,
finally catching up on the Gophers’ shots on goal.

The Pioneers added an extra defenseman after Minnesota’s 45
shots on goal Friday.

Colborne scored Denver’s first goal 18:58 in the first
period on the power-play, assisted by captain Rhett Rakhshani and Patrick
Wiercioch.

DU came back from the intermission with a boost and at 1:07,
Anthony Maiani scored a backhand shot past Patterson, assisted by Brandon
Vossberg and Kyle Ostrow. Shortly after the goal, Denver had a good opportunity to
build on their lead with a two-man advantage for 1:23 – and Denver called a
timeout. But the Pioneers couldn’t capitalize.

At 11:56 in the second period, Minnesota’s Mike Hoeffel was
called for high sticking and Aaron Ness was called for slashing, giving the
Pioneers a 5-on-3 man advantage for a full two minutes.

This time, Colborne was able to capitalize.

“I was feeling pretty bad about that,” he said about not
scoring in the first two-man advantage. “I told Rhett that if he found me
again, I’d make sure I buried it. It just goes to show how good he is. He made
a great pass under the stick and I was there to tap it in.”

Colborne was assisted by Rakhshani and Wiercioch, again, at
12:39. He completed his hat trick 2:16 into the third period,
shorthanded and unassisted, making the game 4-0.

Nearing the end of the game, senior Brian Gifford scored Denver’s
fifth unanswered goal, assisted by Chris Knowlton and John Ryder.

Lucia scored Minnesota’s lone goal with only 38.8 seconds of
play remaining on the power-play, assisted by Mike Carman and Nick Leddy.

Next weekend, the Pioneers will host Michigan Tech and
Minnesota will return home to host Colorado College.

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