WCHA Press Release
MADISON, Wisc. – No. 1-ranked University of Minnesota (27-6-5) and No. 4-ranked University of Wisconsin (25-9-3) have both earned berths in the upcoming 2006 Red Baron WCHA Final Five, after the host Golden Gophers won twice over No. 10 seed Alaska Anchorage, 7-4 and 6-2, on March 10-11 at Mariucci Arena and the Badgers downed visiting and No. 8 seed Michigan Tech, 4-1 and 1-0, at the Kohl Center.
But three of the five Final Five spots are still up for grabs, with decisive third games going on Sunday (March 12) evening at Magness Arena (6,026) in the Mile High City between No. 2 seed Denver (21-14-3) and No. 9 seed Minnesota Duluth (10-24-4) at 7:07 pm MT, at Ralph Engelstad Arena (11,406) in Grand Forks between No. 4 seed North Dakota (24-15-1) and No. 7 seed Minnesota State (17-17-4) at 7:07 pm CT, and at the Colorado Springs World Arena (7,343) between No. 5 seed Colorado College (24-14-2) and No. 6 seed St. Cloud State (19-15-4) at 7:07 pm MT. So far this season, the Pioneers are 3-1-0 vs the Bulldogs, the Fighting Sioux are 3-1-0 vs the Mavericks, and Tigers are 4-2-0 vs the SCSU Huskies.
Over the past five seasons, teams hosting First Round WCHA Playoff series have advanced to the Final Five on 27 of 29 occasions overall, including Minnesota and Wisconsin here in 2005-06). The two first round upsets in the past five seasons both occurred in the 2003-04 season, when No. 8 seed Alaska Anchorage upsetting No. 3 seed Wisconsin two games to one and No. 7 seed Colorado College upended No. 4 seed Denver with a road sweep. In the 67 first round conference playoff series contested since the conference first launched the WCHA Final Five in 1993 at the Saint Paul Civic Center, home teams have now won 58 of those matchups (86.6%), including the two series won by Minnesota and Wisconsin here in 2005-06.
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. Minnesota has already locked up the No. 1 seed for the Final Five, with the other four being decided after Sunday’s three game threes.
Saturday, March 11 WCHA Playoff Re-Caps
No. 10 Alaska Anchorage 2 @ No. 1 Minnesota 6: An all-rookie line of center Phil Kessel (2g,1a), right wing Blake Wheeler (2g,2a) and left wing Ben Gordon (3a) combined for 10 points and the host and top-ranked Golden Gophers hit on three-of-seven power-play chances to complete the First Round WCHA Playoff series over Alaska Anchorage, 6-2, before a capacity crowd of 10,009 at Mariucci Arena. Left wing Ryan Stoa, who also scored two goals, was credited with the game-winner with a man-advantage tally at 15:13 of the first period that put UM up 3-0. For UAA, left wing Eric Walsky and right wing Justin Bourne scored goals. In goal, Kellen Briggs earned the win with 18 stops while starter Nathan Lawson and John DeCaro combined for 45 saves for UAA. The victory extends UM’s nation’s best unbeaten streak to 13 games at 12-0-1 and sends them on to the 2006 Red Baron WCHA Final Five as the No. 1 seed.
No. 9 Minnesota Duluth 2 @ No. 2 Denver 3 : with their backs to the wall, the two-time defending national champion Pioneers came back with a 3-2 win in game two of their First Round WCHA Playoff series against No. 9 seed Minnesota Duluth to tie the series at a game apiece before 5,657 at Magness Arena, as right wing Ryan Helgason netted the game-winner at 15:31 of the third period. Denver was staked to a 2-0 second period advantage after left wing Ryan Dingle scored his 26th and 27th goals of the season, but the Bulldogs fought back to knot the score at 2-2 on a power-play tally from defenseman Jason Garrison at 19:31 of the second and a goal by left wing Michael Gergen at 5:45 of the third. In goal, Peter Mannino had 29 stops for DU while Nate Ziegalmann had 27 saves for UMD.
No. 8 Michigan Tech 0 @ No. 3 Wisconsin 1: Center Joe Pavelski’s power-play goal at 6:49 of the second period held up as the game-winner and goaltender Brian Elliott logged a UW season-record fifth shutout as the host Badgers blanked the Huskies, 1-0, before 13,188 at the Kohl Center to sweep the First Round WCHA Playoff series and advance to the 2006 Red Baron WCHA Final Five. Wisconsin outshot MTU, 30-19, in stretching their victory streak to four games.
No. 7 Minnesota State 1 @ No. 4 North Dakota 4: Freshman forwards T.J. Oshie and Jonathan Toews scored three of their team’s four goals, while center Travis Zajac added a goal and two assists to power the host Fighting Sioux over the Mavericks, 4-1, and even up their First Round WCHA Playoff series at a game apiece. A crowd of 9,258 saw Toews open the scoring at 12:40 of the first period followed by two straight goals from Oshie – his 21st and 22nd of the season – at 13:36 of the first and 5:39 of the second period. Oshie’s first period goal stood as the game-winner, tying him for the nation’s lead with eight. Minnesota State closed to within two at 3-1 on defenseman Kyle Peto’s power-play goal at 15:50 of the second before Zajac iced the win with his PPG at 10:25 of the third. In goal, Jordan Parise had 25 saves for UND while Dan Tormey had 27 for MSU.
No. 6 St. Cloud State 2 @ No. 5 Colorado College 3: senior left winger Brett Sterling scored his 29th and 30th goals of the season in the second and third periods to spark a comeback by the host Tigers that enabled CC to even their First Round WCHA Playoff series against the Huskies with a 3-2 win before 6,829 at Colorado Springs World Arena. SCSU led 2-0 in after a first period tally from right wing Matt Hartman and a second period power-play goal from defenseman Aaron Brocklehurst, before defenseman Brian Salcido got the Tigers going on a goal at 15:07 of the second. Sterling then scored with the man-advantage at 15:51 of the second to tie the score at 2-2, and followed up with his eighth game-winner of the campaign at 11:28 of the third, tying him for the nation’s lead in that department. In goal, Matt Zaba earned the win with 29 saves, while Bobby Goepfert had 33 stops for the Huskies.