April 7, 2005
NCAA Frozen Four
Command Performance
Power play, goaltending lift Denver into title game

By Joe Gladziszewski

Denver 6, Colorado College 2
Team Goal Str
Time Assists
First Period
1-DU Luke Fulghum (22) PP
13:54 M. Carle, B. Skinner
2-DU Luke Fulghum (23) PP
15:26 B. Skinner, G. Gauthier
Second Period
3-DU Matt Carle (13) PP
6:05 B. Skinner, J. Drummond
1-CC Brian Salcido (7) PP
9:49 L. Sweatt, J. Crabb
4-DU Gabe Gauthier (21) PP
19:50 L. Fulghum, M. Carle
Third Period
5-DU Gabe Gauthier (22) PP
5:42 J. Drummond, B. Skinner
2-CC James Brannigan (6) PP
13:02 B. Polich, M. Stuart
6-DU Adrian Viedeman (5) PP
19:15 T. May, P. Mannino
Goaltending
CC: Curtis McElhinney, 60:00, 23 saves, 6 GA
DU: Peter Mannino, 60:00, 41 saves, 2 GA
Penalties: CC 14/28; DU 10/20
Power Plays: CC 2-8; DU 6-12
Attendance: 17,116

COLUMBUS, Ohio – To look at the score of the game, a 6-2 verdict, it would seem to say that Denver was the dominant team in the first semifinal of the 2005 Frozen Four. That score, however, discredits Colorado College, a much better opponent than the score indicates.

Brett Sterling, junior left wing for Colorado College summed it up succinctly: "Tonight could have gone a lot differently."

CC came out with more energy and had the better scoring chances in the first 10 minutes. Denver freshman goaltender Peter Mannino, who had been splitting time with sophomore Glenn Fisher, was given the start by coach George Gwozdecky after posting back-to-back shutouts against the Tigers in recent games. The rotation worked so well, in fact, that it marked the first time a Denver goalie started back-to-back games since late November.

The rookie netminder rewarded his coach's confidence early on with a stop on Brett Sterling's airborne deflection and a semi-breakaway by Aaron Slattengren. As Mannino held the fort, Denver gained its legs and capitalized with two quick goals.

"Peter (Mannino) was terrific in goal, and probably was one of our top stars, if not our best player tonight," Gwozdecky said. "I thought our opponent played very well tonight. We seemed to get a couplee of good bounces that went our way."

Luke Fulghum, a Denver senior born and raised in Colorado Springs, did the damage. His first goal was one for the highlight reel as he walked around CC defenseman Lee Sweatt at the blueline, was in alone on Curtis McElhinney and Fulghum's low shot beat the goalie. Less than two minutes later, after a face-off in the Colorado College defensive end of the rink, Fulghum scrummed a loose puck from the right wing boards to Brett Skinner. Fulghum rolled to the slot and Skinner's shot deflected off of Fulghum and past McElhinney, who was searching for the puck as the red light came on. Before the first period ended, Slattengren's shot from a sharp angle was denied by the goalpost over Mannino's left shoulder.

Another PPG for Denver, this one on Matt Carle's high-slot wrister as Geoff Paukovich screened McElhinney 6:05 into the second period, gave Denver a three-goal lead. CC answered that with its first goal against Mannino in 172:22 minutes, as Brian Salcido fired one along the ice that deflected in.

INCH's Three Stars

3. Peter Mannino, Denver
Made an evenly played game seem lopsided thanks to his 41 saves, extending his personal shutout streak vs. CC to 172:22 in the process.

2. Brett Skinner, Denver
He guided the Pioneer power play to a 6-for-12 effort, with assists on four of the goals. He's the first player to record four assists in an NCAA semifinal since Adam Oates in 1985.

1. Luke Fulghum, Denver
With a great move and a deflection to make it 2-0, the Colorado Springs native outplayed the higher-profile Tiger forwards.

A scrap after the goal sent Carle and CC's Sterling and Joey Crabb to the box, and the Tigers couldn't capitalize on that momentum. Gabe Gauthier's goal with 10 seconds left in the period restored Denver's three-goal advantage.

Gauthier added a second marker with a tap-in goal during a 5-on-3 power play 5:42 into the third period. James Brannigan tallied for CC with 6:58 left and Adrian Veideman rounded out the scoring with a snipe under the crossbar in the game's final minute.

The lost early opportunities doomed CC as the Tigers outshot Denver 43-29 on the night. At even strength, Colorado College troubled Denver with quick transition from the neutral zone to the attack and pounced on Mannino's crease. Its penalty killing wasn't as effective. Denver's power play clicked for six goals in 12 attempts, and both of CC's goals also came on the power play, as Matt Shegos whistled 24 minor penalties which resulted in 20 man-advantage opportunities.

Denver's season continues on Saturday night when the Pioneers will defend their 2004 national championship. Colorado College finished the season with a 31-9-3 record, and just two wins in six games against the University of Denver.

Related Links

Notebook

Video Interview
Brett "The Principal" Skinner

"Last year, when we came into this game we were such huge underdogs and we surprised some people because nobody really expected us to be in the final game," Denver senior Jeff Drummond said. "This season, people know all about us which has made us take a little bit more of a business-like approach."

The loosey-goosey fun-loving bunch of Pioneer players that dominated in Boston is gone. This year's club is more focused, more directed, but no matter how they went about it, the Pioneers have taken care of business.


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