Three Upsets on Opening Night of Post-Season Tournament
WCHA Press Release
MADISON, Wisc. – In a 2005-06 regular season that saw its share of anomalies in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (i.e. only one team, Minnesota, was able to record victories against every other league team; home teams won only 51.4% of the time in league play) it was only fitting that three of the five first round WCHA Playoff games contested on Friday (March 10) night resulted in upsets. After No. 1 seed and MacNaughton Cup champion Minnesota dispatched No. 10 seed and visiting Alaska Anchorage, 7-4, and No. 3 seed Wisconsin downed No. 8 seed and visiting Michigan Tech, 4-1, the results dramatically changed as the three other playoff games concluded from east to west.
First, and at it was No. 7 seed Minnesota State knocking off No. 4 seed and host North Dakota, 3-2 in overtime, at 10:08 pm CT. Then, it was No. 6 seed St. Cloud State upending No. 5 seed and host Colorado College, 2-1, at 9:47 pm MT. And finally, it was No. 9 seed Minnesota Duluth edging No. 2 seed and host Denver, 3-2 in overtime, at 10:05 pm MT. When it was all said and done, road teams had won three of five games on the first night of post-season competition, setting the stage for some possible first round upsets, possible decisive third games on Sunday night, and keeping the field for the 2006 Red Baron WCHA Final Five an intriguing mystery.
The five First Round, best-of-three WCHA Playoff series continue on Saturday (March 11) night with the schedule as follows: No. 1-ranked Minnesota (26-6-5) hosts Alaska Anchorage (6-26-3) at Mariucci Arena (10,000) at 7:07 pm CT; No. 4-ranked Wisconsin (24-9-3) entertains Michigan Tech (7-24-6) at the Kohl Center (15,237) at 7:07 pm CT; No. 10-ranked North Dakota (23-15-1) hosts Minnesota State (17-16-4) at Ralph Engelstad Arena (11,406) at 7:07 pm CT; No. 7/8-ranked Denver (20-14-3) hosts Minnesota Duluth (10-23-4) at Magness Arena (6,026) at 7:07 pm MT; and No. 9-ranked Colorado College (23-14-2) entertains No. 20-ranked St. Cloud State (19-14-4) at Colorado Springs World Arena (7,343) at 7:07 pm MT. The Golden Gophers are now 5-0-0 vs the Seawolves this season, the Badgers are 3-1-1 vs the MTU Huskies, the Pioneers are 2-1-0 vs the Bulldogs, the Fighting Sioux are 2-1-0 vs the Mavericks, and Tigers are 3-2-0 vs the SCSU Huskies.
The five first round WCHA Playoff winners will then be re-seeded No. 1 through No. 5, according to their regular season finish, and advance to the 2006 Red Baron WCHA Final Five, set for March 16-18 at Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, Minn.
Friday, March 10 WCHA Playoff Re-Caps
No. 10 Alaska Anchorage 4 @ No. 1 Minnesota 7: At Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis, a near sellout crowd of 9,955 saw center Ryan Potulny notch a three-goal hat trick and host Minnesota outshoot visiting Alaska Anchorage, 52-28, enroute to a 7-4 First Round WCHA Playoff victory and a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series. The nation’s top goal-scorer, Potulny scored his 32nd, 33rd and 34th goals of the season in the second period, with his third tally standing as the game-winner, to give the Golden Gophers a 5-2 advantage. The Seawolves, who were led by a goal and assist each from centers Jay Beagle and Brent McMann, battled tough all night, three times closing to within one goal at 2-1 in the first period, 3-2 in the second, and 5-4 in the third on Daron Underwood’s first of the season before UM’s Ben Gordon and Ryan Stoa scored in the final 9:25 to ice the win. In goal, Kellen Briggs had 24 stops for Minnesota while John DeCaro had 45 saves for UAA. The victory extends UM’s nation’s best unbeaten streak to 12 games at 11-0-1.
No. 9 Minnesota Duluth 2 @ No. 2 Denver 1 (ot): before 5,706 at Magness Arena, the visiting Bulldogs pulled off one of the more noteworthy upsets of the season as center MacGregor Sharp scored the game-winner at 1:25 of overtime in a playoff series-opening triumph over the host Pioneers. Despite just 18 shots on goal, Minnesota Duluth won for just the second time in the past 14 games to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series. Denver led 1-0 after the first period after center Paul Stastny’s 17th tally on a power-play at 1:25, but the Bulldogs scored the next two, with both coming off the stick of left wing Andrew Carroll on a power-play at 15:06 of the second and at 2:36 of the third. The Pioneers battled back to tie the score at 2-2 on another power-play tally from Stastny at 4:02 of the third. In goal, Nate Ziegelmann had 27 saves for UMD while Glenn Fisher made 15 stops for DU.
No. 8 Michigan Tech 1 @ No. 3 Wisconsin 4: at the Kohl Center in Madison, four different players scored goals for the host Wisconsin Badgers, with right wing A.J. Degenhardt netting the game-winner at 10:39 of the first period, and Brian Elliott stopped 21 of 22 shots on goal in a 4-1 WCHA Playoff win over Michigan Tech before 11,395. UW left wing Robbie Earl opened the scoring with his 19th goal of the year at 6:03 of the first period with Huskies’ defenseman Geoff Kinrade then scoring his first goal to knot the score at 8:48. The Badgers, who extended their winning streak to three, outshot the Huskies, 46-22, on the evening in taking a 1-0 series lead.
No. 7 Minnesota State 2 @ No. 4 North Dakota 1 (ot): Center Rob Rankin connected on his 12th goal of the season at 3:18 of overtime to vault the visiting Mavericks over the Fighting Sioux for a 1-0 lead in their playoff series before 8,048 at Ralph Engelstad Arena. After a scoreless opening 20 minutes, center Travis Zajac gave UND a 1-0 lead on a man-advantage goal at 5:55, but MSU then took a 2-1 lead after the second period on goals from right wing David Backes at 6:30 and center Travis Morin at 19:31. In the third, UND knotted the score at 2-2 on center Matt Watkins’ goal at 5:22, setting the stage for overtime. In goal, Dan Tormey had 29 stops for Minnesota State while Jordan Parise had 33 saves for North Dakota. The Mavericks extended their winning streak to five games.
No. 6 St. Cloud State 2 @ No. 5 Colorado College 1: Center Michael Olson’s shorthanded goal at 1:27 of the second period held up as the game-winner and the visiting Huskies held on for a WCHA Playoff victory over the Tigers and a 1-0 first round series advantage before 6,502 at Colorado Springs World Arena. CC’s only goal game at 6:10 of the first period when left winger Jimmy Kilpatrick opened the scoring with an unassisted tally. SCSU right wing Konrad Reeder then evened the score at 1-1 with a goal at 9:06 of the first. In goal, Bobby Goepfert had 25 saves for the Huskies while Matt Zaba kicked aside 32 for Colorado College.