It was tournament weekend in the NCAA and one of the best match ups was the 10th annual Wells-Fargo Denver cup. Third ranked DU has won their tournament 7 times and this year they invited (#5) U-Mass Lowell, Bowling Green and Harvard to the party. As expected, DU and U-Mass Lowell battled for the cup in the championship game, however the story of the tourney was maturing process of the young (#14) Harvard Crimson team.
Game one: U-Mass Lowell vs Harvard
Even though these teams are geographically very close, they had to come all the way to Denver to face each other for the very first time. A relatively inexperienced, young, under .500 goaltender, Will Crothers was matched up against the best goalie in the NCAA, Cam McCormick. McCormick’s resume includes an incomprehensible 0.62 GAA, .972 Save percentage and an 8-0-0 record.
Crothers weathered a storm of 36 shots on goal until the last few minutes of the third period when Laurent Meunier finally got one past him on a rebound. Mark Concannon shot one though the five hole a few minutes later to seal the win. Crother’s solid goaltending kept his team in the game until the very end and would give them even more confidence in the consolation game on Saturday.
Game two: Denver University vs Bowling Green
A completely different goaltending story took place in this game. DU goalie Adam Berkhoel had to do everything he could to stay awake during the first period and BG goalie, Tyler Masters, saw more shots in the first period than most goalies see all game. It looked like Lukas Dora was going to help DU take an early lead but it was ruled that the goal he scored was kicked in. Less than a minute later, DU’s Luke Fulghum crashed the net and put one in. At the end of the first period shots on goal were an ugly 27 to 2 in DU’s favor.
Mid-way though the second period, Boston draftee Greg Barber roofed the puck in the top corner to give DU a 2-0 lead. Shots on goal were still lopsided at 46 to 16. Later in the second, defensemen Brian Escobedo pinched down low to score a four on four goal for Bowling Green.
The third period was a defensive battle and the score remained the same until Dora got redemption for his waved off goal in the first period. He shuffled the puck in the net for the DU Pioneers.
Scoring for DU:
1st:Luke Fulghum (Brian Vines, Greg Keith)
2nd:Greg Barber (Lukas Dora, Jesse Cook)
3rd:Lukas Dora (EN) (Greg Barber)
Total Shots on Goal: DU 54 BG 25
Saturday conciliation game: Harvard vs. Bowling Green
Playing an early afternoon game far from home, it was a shame that more people where not there to witness a momentum shifting event for Harvard. Not only for this weekend, but for the rest of the season and possibly beyond that. Dov Grumet-Morris started in goal for Harvard. The first period was evenly matched with Bowling Green scoring one late goal. After BG took a 3 to 0 lead in the middle of the second and seemed to be dominating the game, Harvard’s coach made a goaltending switch. Was this an act of surrendering, a way to wake up his defense or a hunch that the star from last nights game would lift his team? What ever it was, it worked. With Mr. 52 saves Will Crothers taking over the net minding duties, a completely different team took the ice after the second period intermission. Harvard rallied back, scoring five unanswered goals, including 2 shorthanded, one power play and 1 empty net goal. Over half of Harvard’s team consists of under-classmen and this tournament is sure to be a boost for this already up and coming team. Crothers stopped all 21 shots he face and was chosen as the Denver All-Tournament Team goaltender.
Saturday Championship game: Denver University vs U-Mass Lowell
After getting only 2 goals on 54 shots on Friday, DU now faced another brick wall named Cam McCormick. These two teams are ranked in the top five on defense so as expected this was a low scoring game. However this did not mean it was a boring game at all. UML came out of the gate banging and using their size at every opportunity. DU stood up to the tough play and let them wear them selves out in Denver’s thin air. After that, DU’s speed took over the show. Even though UML scored the first goal (short handed) DU did not get frustrated. Chris Paradise answered the call soon after. McCormick stood on his head though most of the game but Paradise had his number and slipped another one past him in the second period.
When the heat turned up in the third period DU goalie Wade Dubielwicz made the best save of the year. UML had almost an entire open net to shot at and somehow Dobbie managed to save a goal and the game faster than a blink of the eye. With this effort, his teammates would not let him down and the seconds finally ticked down into DU’s most satisfying victory of the season.
Scoring for DU:
1st:Chris Paradise (Ryan Caldwell, Jon Foster)
2nd:Chris Paradise (Connor James)
Total Shots on Goal: DU 29 UML 27
Weekend Goalie tandem Comparison:
Friday: Berkhoel 25 shots 24 save .960 %
Sat: Dubielewicz 27 shots 26 save .962 %
Name-dropping time: Friday nights game at Magness arena hosted a huge line up of VIPs in the audience. Avs coach Bob Hartley was in the crowd being his usual fan friendly self. Several Avs including Bowling Green Alumni Rob Blake was also in the house. Blake was generously giving interviews to almost every media group in the press boxes. Scouting things out was Oiler’s GM Kevin Lowe. No doubt Mr. Lowe was looking to add to the already impressive NCAA line up on his team.
From VIPs to MVPs: DU players chosen for the Denver All-Tournament team included forward Greg Barber and defensemen Aaron MacKenzie.
Barber, who is property of the Boston Bruins, was also vote as the MVP for the entire tournament. He posted one goal and one assist in the first game and created several scoring opportunities in Saturday’s game.
MacKenzie did not factor in any of the scoring but it was not without trying. He often pinched down low to help out offensively at yet never made a defensive error. He also logged a ton of ice time included shutting out both teams on the power play.
Next Up: The second half of DU’s season only gets more difficult. With only two non-conference games left, the Pioneers will face all of the toughest teams in the WCHA. The last four games in the regular season against North Dakota and St. Cloud should be a measuring stick as to how well they will do in the play-offs