WCHA playoffs: Wisconsin knocks off Denver; other home teams prevail

No. 10 Wisconsin 1, No. 3 Denver 0

DENVER – A late third-period goal by Sean Little was enough for No. 10 seed Wisconsin to defeat No. 3 seed Denver 1-0 in the first game of the WCHA Playoffs Friday night at Magness Arena.

Little scored the game-winning goal on a 2-on-1 rush with 5:50 remaining in the game to give Wisconsin game one in the best-of-three series.

Netminder Joel Rumpel made 28 saves in the shutout, as Wisconsin improves to 17-16-2.

Denver freshman Juho Olkinuora (Helsinki, Finland) gave the Pioneers 29 saves, but the Pioneers fall to 21-12-4. Denver must win tomorrow night to continue play in the WCHA Playoffs.

“We had our chances to score, I thought we had good opportunities on the power play, but we didn’t execute very well,” DU head coach George Gwozdecky said. “Our pace and our speed were good, but in the third, we were tightening up a little. They made a good play on the winning goal, their guy undresses our defenseman and it turns into a 2-on-1. Olkinuora had good night for us, but we just couldn’t score. This is a playoff series and we have to get ready for tomorrow night.”

The game was scoreless until the 14:10 mark of the final stanza when Little tapped a Jake McCabe centering pass in behind Olkinuora.

Wisconsin outshot Denver 30-28 and went 0-for-3 on the power play. The Pioneers were 0-for-4 on the man-advantage.

The Pioneers take on the Badgers in the second game of the WCHA Playoffs Saturday night. Puck drop at Magness Arena is set for 7:07 p.m. MT.

No. 1 Minnesota 2, No. 12 Alaska Anchorage 1

MINNEAPOLIS — The fifth-ranked Minnesota men’s hockey team jumped out to a 1-0 lead in its best-of-three first-round playoff series by earning a 2-1 win over Alaska Anchorage at Mariucci Arena on Friday night. With a win against the Seawolves on Saturday or Sunday (if necessary), the top-seeded Gophers will advance the WCHA Final Five for the first time in three years.

Each team had its share of chances, but Minnesota goaltender Kent Patterson and UAA netminder Chris Kamal were sharp in the opening 20 minutes and the game remained scoreless after the first period.

No. 2 Minnesota Duluth 4, No. 11 MSU Mankato 2

DULUTH — Brady Lamb took the bull — make that the Maverick — by the horns Friday night. The University of Minnesota Duluth senior defenseman scored a pair of goals, including the game-winner midway through the third period, and sparked the third-ranked Bulldogs to a 4-2 home victory over Minnesota State University in the opening game of their best-of-three Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoff series.

“We know anything can happen come playoff time, so we have to bring our best every night,” said Lamb, who extended his scoring streak to a career-high five games. “We had some ups and downs tonight, but all-and-all I thought we played pretty well.”

UMD (23-8-6 overall), which is now unbeaten in 14 of its last 15 games with the Mavericks and 8-0-1 against them in Duluth since Jan. 11, 2007, took a 1-0 lead on right winger J.T. Brown‘s team-leading 22nd goal of the season. Brown beat Maverick goaltender Austin Lee with a turnaround wrister in the high slot after grabbing a loose puck which came off freshman left winger Caleb Hebert’s stick.

No. 4 North Dakota 4, No. 9 Bemidji State 1

GRAND FORKS — Junior forward Carter Rowney registered three assists to help North Dakota win game one of a WCHA playoff series with a 4-1 victory against Bemidji State on Friday evening at Engelstad Arena.

No. 6 St. Cloud State 4, No. 7 Nebraska Omaha 0

ST. CLOUD — Junior goaltender Mike Lee made 27 saves and freshman defenseman Andrew Prochno had a goal and an assist to lead St. Cloud State to a 4-0 win against Nebraska Omaha in WCHA playoff action on Friday night at National Hockey Center.

About paisleyhockey
I am a freelance writer specializing in sports with about 25 years of professional experience.

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