Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Too Little, Too Late...

For the last month of my life, hockey has not been my top priority and for that I am truly sorry. This post is going to be pretty big as I try to hit all key points for the last month. And off we go!

It was rivalry weekend on the Front Range as the No. 3 Pioneers faced off against the No. 4 Tigers of Colorado College. In the first match-up of the home and home series, the Tigers walked all over the Pioneers with a 5-1 win at the Colorado Springs World Arena. Junior Chad Rau scored his first career hat trick to lead the Tigers to victory. On a personal note, I cannot say with enough fervor how much I HATE going to World Arena. I have yet to have a good experience in that venue. This time around it was a completely wasted CC “fan” that made my evening even worse by continually yelling obscenities towards my friends and me. Meanwhile, the true CC fans around us did nothing but laugh at the drunken man’s farce.

The tables turned when the Tigers visited the Pioneers at Magness Arena on Saturday night. Tyler Ruegsegger, Rhett Rakhshani, and Tom May each scored in a 3-2 win over the Tigers.

A word on this edition of the Colorado College Tigers, they have incredible speed, are excellent on capitalizing on opponent’s mistakes, and have one of the premiere goal tenders in the WCHA. Richard Bachman, the freshman from Highlands Ranch, CO was truly amazing both nights in net. I can only hope that Bachman, drafted in the 4th round by the Dallas Stars in 2006, will bolt early for the pros!

The following weekend saw our Pioneers host the North Dakota Fighting Sioux. Friday night saw Peter Mannino earning his 12th shutout as a Pioneer in a 1-0 victory for Denver. Mannino’s 27-save effort tied him with Adam Berkhoel for second place on DU’s career shutout list. He now sits one behind Gerry Powers (13) for first place.

Saturday night was a different story as the Pioneers lost by a score of 3-1. However, much like Friday night, Freshman Tyler Bozak scored the lone goal for DU. The Pioneers came out flat and showed little to no effort through the first two periods of the game, only coming to life in the third...too little, too late!

On December 4, standout sophomores Rhett Rakhshani and Tyler Ruegsegger were named to the 2008 U.S. Nationl Junior Team that will compete at the World Junior Championshops in the Czech Republic after Christmas. What an amazing honor and opportunity for these two amazing young men! While we'll miss them for the Denver Cup, we truly wish them all the best of luck in the Tournament!!

With the University of Denver campus emptied of students during our 6 week winter break, the Pioneer hockey team travelled to St. Cloud, Minnesota after their split with North Dakota. In the Friday night match, DU edged St. Cloud State 3-2. This win however did not come easily as the Huskies, who at the time were trying to snap a 4 game losing streak, fought hard throughout. Also, a questionable call really helped the Pioneers in this win. Jesse Martin's goal at 3:54 of the second period, the first of the night for the Pioneers, should not have been counted as a goal. See the YouTube video below. After the game, WCHA commisioner Bruce McLeod issued a formal apology to St. Cloud State.

On Saturday, the Huskies again came out hard. They outplayed DU throughout the first two periods, coming into the third the a 2-0 lead. With 6 minutes left on the game, the Huskies were looking forward to finally ending their long winning drought. Rhett Rakhshani had a different idea however and went on to score a hat trick in the final 5 minutes and 49 seconds of the game to lead Denver to another 3-2 win over St. Cloud. I let the play speak for itself, for surely there are not words to describe this truly amazing comeback...

Rakhshani was named as the INCH Player of the Week for his heroics in the game. I must thank him for reminding me why it is I love this sport so much. ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!

After a rather stunning sweep over St. Cloud, the boys headed up to Anchorage, Alaska for their final WCHA series before the Christmas break. The Pioneers beat the Seawolves 4-3 on Friday for their third win in a row, with goals from 4 different Pioneers (Testwuide, May, Martin, and Mullen).

Saturday night, again down by two goals, the Pioneers showed what they're made of, scoring 6 unanswered goals in a 6-2 win over the Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves, completing their second WCHA road sweep in a row.

The Pioneers concluded the first half of their season with a 14-4 record and 11-3 mark in the WCHA. They are now tied for 1st place in the WCHA with the Colorado College Tigers, both having 22 league points in 14 games played.