Even though the DU Pioneers have not had a lot of playoff experience in recent years, they successfully accomplished three important factors of post-season play over the weekend. First, they were not over confident while playing the number ten seed, Michigan Tech. Second, each player contributed to the game and played as a team. And last, several player were playing though new and old injuries.
The DU Pioneers have beaten the Michigan Tech Huskies in the last 6 games that the two teams have met. Most of these games have been very one sided. It would be very easy to look past this series and focus on the final five next weekend. The other top ranked teams in the WCHA struggled though their weekend series with many one goal games and several overtimes. DU sent a message out to the rest of the league that they would not take any team lightly.
DU’s offense, defense and goaltending played each role selflessly. They dominated in both zones and in every period of both games. Offensively, they totaled 13 goals and 71 shots with 9 different players lighting the lamp and 14 different players with helpers. Defensively, they only allowed 2 goals and 33 shots on goal. The goaltending duo that has trade off duties all season long, has been narrowed down to junior Wade Dubielewicz taking over the starting spot in both games. Sophomore Adam Berkhoel enthusiastically sat on the bench though both games and cheered his team on.
Two weekends ago, during the St Cloud series, DU gained one player back from an injury and saw two other key players go down. Freshman defenseman Jussi Halme had major shoulder surgery early in the season, which should have kept out for the entire year. After playing a limited amount of time last weekend, he returned to a normal shift this weekend and scored his first career goal, which turned out to be the game winner on Friday.
Sparkplug winger, Lukas Dora left the St Cloud game with what looked to be a serious knee injury. Also in this game, defensemen Aaron MacKenzie was checked into the boards awkwardly and immediately left the ice with a wrist injury. During his surgery he had two pins put in his left wrist. Miraculously, both players played a complete game both nights.
Highlights from Game one: Both teams started out strong as the late arriving crowd struggled to get into the arena from a freak ice storm that happened earlier in the day in Denver. In the first period, Luke Fulghum knocked the puck out of mid air and passed it to Greg Keith for the first goal of the game.
Late in the second period, Chris Paradise wristed one from near the blueline to score one of his two goals on the night. This gave DU a very important 3-1 lead.
In the third period, Paradise scored again and this point gave him 100 points in his career at DU. The fifth goal of the game came from David Neale as he was crashing the net and flying thought the air. Several MTU players continued to rough him up after the goal but finally he broke free, slapping his stick on the ice and pumping the crowd up, signaling that this game was over.
Date: March 8,2002 DU Vs. Michigan Tech Score 5-1 DU
Scoring for DU:
1st: Greg Keith (Luke Fulghum, Max Bull)
Jussi Halme (Max Bull, Aaron MacKenzie)
2nd: Chris Paradise (Erik Adams)
3rd: Chris Paradise (Connor James, Bryan Vines)
David Neale (Jon Foster, Matt Weber)
Total Shots on Goal: DU 40 Mich Tech 14
Highlights from Game two: Sniper Connor James started the scoring midway though the first period with a top shelf goal. Next, it was David Neale’s turn to score his second goal in as many games.
The second period saw a beautiful tic-tac-toe goal when James and Kevin Doell passed the puck off to Greg Barber.
The highlight goal of the weekend came from Matt Weber as he streaked down center ice, past the defensemen, and shuffled one in on the backhanded shot.
With 8 minutes left in the game and the score 7-0 DU’s Coach Gwozdecky pulled a very classy move. Wade Dubielewicz took his shut out to the bench and senior “third string” goaltender Andy Lemelin took over the net minding duties. Lemelin has never played a regular season game for the Pioneers and usually doesn’t even get a chance to dress. With his plain white mask and his clean pads, he took his place in the crease The crowd cheered wildly and the DU players tapped their sticks on the ice. He had the opportunity to handle the puck several times and the DU defensemen were trying desperately to let Lemelin see some shots. However the only shot that MTU registered for the rest of the game was one that was screened by the defensemen and went in the net. DU got revenge for this goal by scoring once more with only 4 seconds left in the game.
After the game, a ceremony was held to present the MacNaughton Cup to the Pioneers for having the best regular season record in the WCHA. As the players skated around with the trophy, Coach Gwozdecky thank the fans and the students for their support all season and invited everyone to join them in St. Paul.
Date: March 9,2002 DU Vs. Mich Tech Score 8-1 DU
Scoring for DU:
1st: Connor James (Jon Foster, Chris Paradise)
David Neale (Matt Weber, Wade Dubielewicz)
2nd: Lukas Dora (Kevin Ulanski, Aaron MacKenzie)
Greg Barber (Kevin Doell, Connor James)
Chris Paradise (Ryan Caldwell, Jon Foster)
3rd: Matt Weber (Jon Foster, David Neale)
David Neale (Jon Foster)
Kevin Doell (Ryan Caldwell, Kevin Ulanski)
Total Shots on Goal: DU 31 Mich Tech 19
Weekend Goalie stats:
Friday: Dubielewicz 14 shots 13saves .929 %
Saturday: Dubielewicz 19 shots 19saves SO