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Denver Forces Sunday Night Finale

Denver goaltender Sam Brittain stood tall in a 3-1 victory over the Badgers Saturday night. Photo: Matthew Semisch (
Denver goaltender Sam Brittain stood tall in a 3-1 victory over the Badgers Saturday night. Photo: Matthew Semisch (

Pioneers Draw Even On Badgers With 3-1 Saturday Victory

Turning the puck over can be costly in any contest. Turning the puck over against the 9th ranked team in the country in a game that could possibly end their season can be disastrous.

Wisconsin made more mistakes than Denver on Saturday night and it cost them on the scoreboard.

The Badgers came into the night holding a 1-0 lead in a best-of-three series with the winner moving on to St. Paul for the WCHA Final Five. The loser of the series will likely see their season come to an end.

Both teams played solid playoff hockey, but it was the Badgers who made one more mistake than the Pioneers.

After a turnover in the neutral zone, Denver super-star Jason Zucker brought the puck into the Wisconsin zone on the right wing. Zucker zipped a pass through a Badger blue-liner's legs, and Luke Salazar was in perfect postion to one-time the shot past Wisconsin goalkeeper Joel Rumpel for the game winner.

The goal put the Pioneers up 2-1, and it's all they would need to seal the deal on the 3-1 victory.

Wisconsin looked like they had gotten on the board first on Saturday night. Sophomore Frankie Simonelli sent a shot towards the Denver cage that fooled Pioneer goaltender Sam Brittain and found the back of the net.

However after a review, the goal was waived off as the officials ruled that Badger freshman Brendan Woods interfered with the goalkeeper.

Denver would end up netting the first official goal of the night 4:04 into the third period when Nate Dewhurst was able to corral a loose puck around the Badger cage and slip it by Rumpel. The goal was Denver's first of the series.

The Badgers would bounce back three minutes later to tie the game at one all.

After leaving the box from taking an uncharacteristic penalty, Jake McCabe led a four-on-two rush into the Denver zone. The freshman blue-liner found junior Justin Schultz trailing the play, and the Hobey candidate swiftly deposited the puck in the back of the net to tie the score.

It would take another six minutes for the game winner to finally come to fruition.

The neutral zone turnover was costly, and freshman Jake McCabe noted that the Badgers need to tighten that up in the series finale on Sunday night.

"We shot ourselves in the foot, too many turnovers tonight, plain and simple. We need to be more decisive, get the puck in deep, get the puck out, and that's what it comes down to," McCabe said.

Wisconsin goalkeeper Joel Rumpel was solid once again for the Badgers, stopping 38 of 40 shots on the night.

"He just seems calm in there. He doesn't waste a lot of energy. I think our guys for the most part are letting him see pucks," Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves noted. "He's just kind of doing his thing in there."

Despite playing back to back nights at high altitude, it's all but a certainty that we'll see Rumpel back in the net again on Sunday.

"He's been really good. I hope he gets a lot of rest," Eaves said after the game.

Sunday night's finale is a set up of two teams fighting for their lives. The winner will move on to the WCHA Final Five in St. Paul on Thursday, and the loser is likely done for the season.

Eaves noted that Sunday night is opportunity for his young squad to pass another bench mark.

"We get to see what we're truly made of." BOX SCORE

Goals Scoring/Penalties Time

1st Period (20:00)
DEN-1 Josiah Didier (2-Interference) WIS 0x1 3:01
WIS-1 Brad Navin (2-Roughing) DEN 0x1 8:09
DEN-2 Drew Shore (10-Game Misconduct) 13:27
DEN-3 Drew Shore (5-CONTACT TO THE HEAD) (Served by Larkin Jacobson) WIS 0x2 13:27
WIS-2 Joseph LaBate (2-Interference) 14:15

2nd Period (20:00)
WIS-3 Brad Navin (2-Roughing) 12:35
DEN-4 Ty Loney (2-Roughing) 12:35
WIS-4 Justin Schultz (2-Holding) DEN 0x2 16:02

3rd Period (20:00)
DEN 1 - 0 6x6 Nate Dewhurst (3) (Dustin Jackson, John Lee) 4:04
DEN (+): 37,8,5,21,26,G1 WIS (-): 8,21,27,6,25,G33
WIS-5 Jake McCabe (2-Tripping) DEN 0x3 4:43
WIS 1 - 1 6x6 Justin Schultz (16) (Jake McCabe) 6:54
WIS (+): 6,19,18,12,55,G33 DEN (-): 37,5,7,8,23,G1
DEN 2 - 1 6x6 GW LL Luke Salazar (10) (Jason Zucker, Nick Shore) 12:53
DEN (+): 18,17,23,24,4,G1 WIS (-): 25,9,7,24,4,G33
DEN 3 - 1 6x6 EN Nick Shore (12) (unassisted) 19:04
DEN (+): 23,2,7,17,18,G1 WIS (-): 25,27,9,19,55,7

End of Game

Wisconsin Goaltending 1st 2nd 3rd Total Minutes GA
Joel Rumpel (L, 12-11-2) 13 15 10 38 58:58 2
EMPTY NET 0 0:06 1
Joel Rumpel 0 0 1 1 0:56 0
Denver Goaltending 1st 2nd 3rd Total Minutes GA
Sam Brittain (W, 6-3-0) 10 7 10 27 60:00 1

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