Wells Fargo Denver Cup
Arena • Denver, Colo.
Colgate vs. Northeastern, 6:05 p.m. ET
Air Force at Denver, 9:05 p.m. ET
Third-Place Game, 6:05 p.m. ET
Championship, 9:05 p.m. ET
Pioneers pleased the hometown fans by winning the second
of its three tournament titles on the year, the others being
the Lefty McFadden Classic and that one they earned in Boston
in April. Denver bounced Niagara in the first round and
topped Nebraska-Omaha – an opening-round winner over
Yale – to claim its fourth straight Denver Cup championship.
for the thumb: Two Pioneer wins would give the
team its fifth straight Denver Cup championship. Denver
won its tournament five times in a row on one previous occasion
Déjà vu all over again: Colgate
and Northeastern butt heads in the first round of a holiday
tournament for the second year in a row. The Huskies and
Raiders were also first-round opponents in last year's RPI
Holiday Tournament. Coach Bruce Crowder’s charges
won that meeting and that tourney. Northeastern was also
victorious when the two teams faced each other in Hamilton,
N.Y., earlier this season. They also skated to a 3-3 tie
to start the 2003-04 campaign.
to last season, the Pioneers are spreading the wealth offensively
– junior forward Gabe Gauthier leads the team in scoring
with a modest 19 points, but he’s one of ten players
with 10 or more points through 17 games. Among that group
are defensemen Brett Skinner (2-16—18) and Matt Carle
(6-10—16), arguably the best blueline tandem in the
country. Not only do they provide offensive punch, but also
key a defense that makes life tolerable for goalies Glenn
Fischer and Peter Mannino, who are learning on the go.
the Pioneers’ dominance against non-conference foes
at home – they’ve posted a 31-5-2 (.842) record
against non-WCHA competition since moving into Magness Arena
in 1999 – it won’t be a shock for one of the
visiting teams to spoil the host’s party because they
all have netminders capable of stealing wins. Colgate’s
Steve Silverthorn is among the country’s leaders in
wins (third with 11) and goals against average (12th at
2.02), and he’s allowed two or fewer goals in 10 of
his 14 starts.
let Keni Gibson’s record fool you. The Northeastern
goalie has a 6-7-2 record, but a 2.75 GAA and a .910 save
percentage. He’s been solid during a four-game winless
streak that included 35 saves in a 2-1 loss to Boston College,
34 stops in a 2-2 draw against UMass Lowell and one goal
on 20 shots in a shutout loss to Vermont.
there’s Peter Foster, who mans the goal for Denver’s
first-round opponent, Air Force. He ranks two spots behind
Silverthorn nationally with a 2.07 GAA, and his .922 save
percentage is the 16th-best mark in the country. Oh, by
the way, of his eight wins on the year, five have been shutouts.
He leads Division I goalies in that category.
WE SEE IT
Air Force has won a school-record six straight games away
from home and matched a school mark with nine victories
prior to the holiday break, the odds of them downing Denver
are remote. The Pioneers have won 16 in a row against their
non-conference neighbors to the south, a run they’ll
extend to 17 with an easy first-round win as the hosts score
early and often.
Based on the recent history between Colgate and Northeastern
– the two teams have played three close, relatively
high-scoring games since the start of the 2003-04 season
– the opening-round affair pitting the Raiders and
Huskies could well be the most entertaining game of the
weekend. Colgate may have the better record, but Gibson’s
teammates owe him a win. Senior forward Jason Guerrerio
moves a couple steps closer to his 100th career point with
a pair of goals and the Huskies advance.
by Denver and Northeastern would set up a rematch between
teams that played more than two months ago, when the Pioneers
earned their first win of the young season by downing the
host Huskies, 4-2, on Oct. 16. While Northeastern fought
back from deficits on two separate occasions to tie that
game and give Denver a scare, the Pioneers are a different
team. Their balance, especially on offense, will wear the
Huskies down, as coach George Gwozdecky guides the Pioneers
to their fifth-straight Denver Cup crown.