December 26, 2004
Wells Fargo Denver Cup

Magness Arena • Denver, Colo.

Holiday Tournament

This week's schedule
National TV Schedule

Holiday Tournament Previews
Badger Hockey Showdown
Florida College Classic
Great Lakes Invitational
Ledyard National Bank Classic
Ohio Hockey Classic
UConn Hockey Classic
Dodge Holiday Classic


Saturday, January 1
Colgate vs. Northeastern, 6:05 p.m. ET
Air Force at Denver, 9:05 p.m. ET

Sunday, January 2
Third-Place Game, 6:05 p.m. ET
Championship, 9:05 p.m. ET


The 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.


One 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 (1992-96).

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.


Similar 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.

Despite 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.

Don’t 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.

Then 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.


Though 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.

Wins 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.

Send this to a friend

About Us | Advertiser Info | Site Map | Privacy Policy
© 2004 Inside College Hockey, Inc., All Rights Reserved