Athletics & Recreation / Magazine Feature

Pioneers heading to Final Five

Freshman Anthony Maiani scored the only goal and senior Peter Mannino captured his 15th career shutout to lead No. 8 Denver (24–13–1, 16–11–1) to a 1–0 win and WCHA first round series sweep over Minnesota Duluth (13–17–6, 9–14–5 WCHA) March 15 before 4,820 fans at Magness Arena. With the win, DU returns to the WCHA Final Five for the first time since 2005.

After a scoreless first period, Denver grabbed a 1–0 lead at 7:44 of the second period when Maiani and fellow freshman Jesse Martin raced into the offensive zone on a 2-on-1 odd-man rush. Maiani wristed a shot that found its way through Minnesota Duluth goalie Alex Stalock (14 saves) for the freshman’s third game-winning goal.

Denver survived 5-on-3 and 4-on-3 disadvantages for the final two minutes and three seconds with Mannino making three big stops during that span. The senior totaled 25 saves, including 11 in the final stanza, as DU avenged a 2006 first round upset by the Bulldogs.

“I’m very proud of our team,” DU head coach George Gwozdecky said. “We showed a lot of heart and character, and we are extremely happy to be heading back to the Final Five.”

DU went 6-for-6 on the penalty kill and 0-for-5 on the power play in the win.

DU has won the Final Five championships in its last two appearances (2002 and 2005) at the league’s premier event.

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