It seems like as long as there's been snow on top of the Rockies, there's been a goaltending platoon at Denver.
When Peter Mannino was choosing a college, he came to Magness Arena knowing that the platoon of Wade Dubielewicz and Adam Berkhoel had led the Pioneers to a WCHA title in 2002, and the platoon of Berkhoel and Glenn Fisher had led the program to an NCAA title in 2004. In Mannino's rookie year, his platoon with Fisher led DU to an NCAA title repeat.
But the winds of change are blowing on the Front Range as the new season begins. Pioneers coach George Gwozdecky served notice early that the team's crease might be the sole property of one goalie, not both, depending on who's playing better.
"I believe we have the best 1-2 goaltender combination in the country," Gwozdecky said in the WCHA's preseason teleconference. "Our platooning of Glenn and Peter is up in the air right now. We aren't sure if we are going to do that again, we might just go with who has the hot hand at the present time."
Indeed, last weekend against St. Cloud State, Fisher got the Friday start and notched a career-high 47 saves in a 4-3 overtime win over the Huskies. Gwozdecky started him again Saturday.
"We knew going in one of the key positions for us was going to be in goal," Gwozdecky said after Friday's game. "Glenn was terrific for us tonight and gave us a chance."
The second start didn't go so well for Fisher or the team. The goalie played 33 minutes, allowing four goals on 11 shots before the coach put in Mannino to finish the 5-2 loss. Although he has only started one of the Pioneers' four games thus far, Mannino says he likes the new policy.
"Coach wants to go with the guy who's playing well, so the hot goalie's going to play now," Mannino said. "Glenn and I have a great relationship, so we're both pretty positive about it because we know we'll both get more opportunities the better we play."
Seen and Heard in the WCHA
Another Hockeytown in Michigan
We're not hearing as much "Hockeytown" talk from Detroit these days, with the Tigers in the World Series and all. But another Michigan community is underscoring its proud hockey past.
As was reported in the Daily Mining Gazette recently, the Houghton City Council unanimously voted to change the city's official slogan to, "The Birthplace of Professional Hockey." In the 1903-04 season, the Portage Lakes Club played there, and has been recognized as the first collection of hockey players who skated for money. The team was commemorated two years ago with a centennial celebration in Houghton featuring Gordie Howe and a team of Detroit Red Wings alumni playing a game versus a Michigan Tech alumni team.
Hockey roots run deep in the home of the Huskies. Michigan Tech gave college hockey the MacNaughton Cup (and memorably took the Cup to the CCHA when the Huskies moved there for a few years in the early 1980s). And the Houghton city manager who proposed the new slogan is Scott MacInnes, the son of legendary Huskies coach John MacInnes.
In his 26 years behind the bench at Tech, the elder MacInnes led the Huskies to seven WCHA titles and three NCAA titles. The Huskies' home rink bears his name today.
After nine years and two NCAA titles spent as an assistant coach behind the home bench in Denver, Seth Appert will be on the visitors' bench this weekend when his Rensselaer team visits his old employer. Having had a similar experience a year ago, St. Cloud State head coach Bob Motzko said he didn't prepare much differently when getting his new team ready to face Minnesota, where he'd been a part of two NCAA titles as an assistant.
"You spend your time just getting ready for work like you would with any other opponent," Motzko said. "As a coach, you don't make it personal with your team. You actually want to downplay it. It's dangerous to put too much emphasis on any one weekend."
Still, Motzko admits that when the Gophers took to the ice against his Huskies for the first time last season, the sight of the familiar maroon and gold sweaters "kinda hit me upside the head."
For Appert's former players, there will be excitement and strangeness at the same time. Mannino notes that with a junior hockey background, it's common for collegians to face former coaches and teammates nearly every weekend, and that he isn't worried about Appert knowing his weak spots.
"Everyone has video these days, so it's not like you can really hide anything," Mannino said. "We're pretty excited for Seth. He definitely deserves this. It'll be good to see him, but it'll definitely be a little awkward to see him on the other bench."
Fries at the Bottom of the Bag
• Before their sophomore seasons at Denver, Mannino and forward Paul Stastny found a nice apartment and decided to room together. When Stastny signed a pro contract over the summer and made the Colorado Avalanche roster, he apparently saw no reason to get new lodging. Mannino said other than Stastny getting a paycheck now, not much has changed.
"For the most part we're still just hanging out and playing PlayStation when we're at home, but I tell Paul I have to go to class and he tells me he has to go sign autographs at a charity event," Mannino said. "He's bought me dinner a few times and he got me an advance copy of Martin Brodeur's book before it came out, but for the most part, Paul doesn't change."
• New Hampshire -- and nearly any other non-WCHA team -- may be looking for wins in the wrong place as the Wildcats travel to Colorado Springs to face undefeated Colorado College this weekend. Over the last four seasons, the Tigers are a combined 27-3-3 versus nonconference opponents.
• Another weekend means another home-and-home series for Minnesota State as the Mavericks face St. Cloud State in Mankato and in St. Cloud, respectively, Friday and Saturday. Mavs coach Troy Jutting says that despite the additional bus trips, he thinks the here-and-there series are a good thing.
"It's a huge benefit to the fans because they don't have to commit a whole weekend to hockey," Jutting said. "I think it helps with the rivalry, playing one night in each town, and it means more weekends where we can expose our program to our home fans."
The Mavericks split a home-and-home tilt with Notre Dame last weekend and will play two such series with both St. Cloud State and Minnesota before the season is through.
"Doing it this way gives us two more weekends where we have at least one home game," Jutting said. "I think it's a good thing, but of course it doesn't matter for me because I'll be there both nights anyway."
• Shootouts are deciding games all over the NHL this season, and the Nye Frontier Classic in Anchorage last weekend was decided via shootout when Alaska-Anchorage and Nebraska-Omaha were tied 2-2 at the end of overtime. UAA took the tournament crown via a 3-1 shootout win, but the victors aren't ready to embrace the idea of NHL-style shootouts in college hockey.
"Maybe at the professional level it's good because they play 82 games, but I'm not an advocate of it at the college level because of the fewer number of games," Seawolves coach Dave Shyiak said. "It's great for the fans and the shooters. I'm not so sure the goalies like it, but it's certainly entertaining."
• Wisconsin's 1-0 win versus North Dakota Saturday was the ninth 1-0 victory in the history of Badgers hockey and the fourth 1-0 win by the Badgers since March. En route to the NCAA title last season the Badgers had 1-0 wins over St. Cloud State (March 3), Michigan Tech (March 11) and Cornell (March 26). The Badgers also suffered a 1-0 loss to Denver on Jan. 20.
• Minnesota held Wayne State without a shot on goal in the third period of the Golden Gophers' 7-1 win over the Warriors Friday. It was the second time in less than a year Minnesota has held a team without a shot for a full stanza. Alaska Anchorage had zero shots on goal in the second period of a 4-0 Gophers win on Feb. 25 in Anchorage.
"It's a combination of the opponent and of us playing a puck-possession style of hockey," Gophers coach Don Lucia said. "If you put a clock on it, on an Olympic-size rink, we probably had the puck most of the time. For the goalies, sometimes when you only see 15 shots its harder to play and stay focused than in a game where you face 30."
• Last weekend, the parents of Minnesota Duluth rookie forward Logan Gorsalitz, Stafford and Joy, made an adventure out of the first of what they figure will be many, many long road trips to see their son play. The couple lives in Fort McMurray, Alberta, which, under optimal conditions, is a 23-hour drive from the DECC. But due to trouble with snow tires, an unexpected delay in Minot, N.D., and snow in western Minnesota, it took the Gorsalitz clan 30 hours to get to the Twin Ports. They said the trip was well worth it not only to watch Logan, a freshman forward, but to experience the antics of the student fans and the band at the DECC. The final horn had barely sounded after Saturday night's 7-3 Bulldogs win when the Gorsalitz parents were back in their Acura headed northwest for 17 hours. Stafford admits they bent a few Saskatchewan speed limits to make it to the Camrose (Alberta) Kodiaks game by 2:30 the next afternoon. From Camrose it was another five hours north to Fort Mac after the game. Undaunted, they're making the trek again in two weeks, when the Bulldogs host Denver.
• Those of us who frequent college hockey pressboxes are saying so long to an old friend this week. Anchorage Daily News writer Doyle Woody, who has covered the Seawolves seemingly since before Alaska gained statehood, was shifted to the ECHL Alaska Aces beat last week and won't be making his WCHA rounds this season. We'll miss his great sense of humor and perpetual smile, even in the face of some dismal on-ice results. A personal favorite story comes from the Seawolves' lone trip to the WCHA Final Five in 2004, when former Minnesota coach Doug Woog, working for Fox Sports North, said on the air, "I'd like to welcome my good friend Woody Doyle to the broadcast booth."
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