Denver Blanks Wisconsin to Reach Title Game
by Dan Myers/CHN Staff
by Dan Myers/CHN Staff
ST. PAUL, Minn. Something had to give Friday afternoon at the Xcel Energy Center.
Denver, undefeated against Wisconsin this season and in the WCHA Final Five since it moved to Xcel, was up against Wisconsin, fighting for its playoff lives and undefeated all-time against Denver in postseason play.
Entering play Friday, the Badgers were 11-0 in playoff games against Denver. But following a 3-0 DU win Friday, that mark stands unblemished no more.
"I didn't know that," said DU head coach George Gwozdecky, who played collegiately with the Badgers. "Considering Wisconsin's had some great teams in the past, and so has Denver and the long history of both programs, that surprises me.
"I'm glad we could break that string."
Pioneers goaltender Marc Cheverie was worthy of the hard hat he was awarded by DU captains following Friday's game. The sophomore posted 41 saves in his fifth victory over the Badgers this season, especially impressive, considering DU was without both forwards Tyler Ruegsegger and Tyler Bozak.
"We've improved our defense throughout the season, it's gotten better and better," Cheverie said. "Good teams have to tighten up in the playoffs and I think they've allowed me to pump up my stats a bit in the postseason. I give all the credit to them, they make my job a lot easier."
When they weren't clearing the slot in front of Cheverie, Denver's defensemen were busy contributing offense. Freshman Patrick Wiercioch scored Denver's final goal 6:01 into the third period, a goal which seemed to end any hopes of a Badger comeback. Fellow defenseman Patrick Mullen had a hand in two goals, gaining assists on Denver's second and third goals, respectively.
For Wiercioch, it was his fifth solid game of the season against the team he verbally committed to last year. In all, the freshman has 10 points against the Badgers this season.
"I was definitely excited when I committed to Wisconsin, but it wasn't in the cards," Wiercioch said. "But I think it's worked out pretty well."
Denver will face the winner of semifinal game No. 2 tonight at Xcel Energy Center, pitting top-seeded North Dakota against upset-minded Minnesota Duluth, the No. 7 seed.
Wisconsin, with it's NCAA tournament hopes on life support, will take on the loser in the third place game Saturday afternoon.
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