DENVER - WCHA Rookie of the Year Jason Zucker (Las Vegas, Nev.) scored the game-winner in a 3-2 win over Minnesota State in a Saturday night, overtime thriller at Magness Arena. The victory punched DU's ticket to the WCHA Final Five next Friday in St. Paul, Minn.
Sophomore Matt Donovan (Edmond, Okla.) and freshman David Makowski (Wildwood, Mo.) each had a power-play goal and an assist for Denver (23-10-5). Freshman Sam Brittain (Calgary, Alberta) stopped 32 shots for the Pioneers, who head to their fourth straight WCHA Final Five. Ben Youds and J.P. Burkemper scored for Minnesota State (14-18-6). Austin Lee made 31 saves in the loss.
"Minnesota State is a good team and they did a great job of pressuring us all night," head coach George Gwozdecky said. "I have to give credit to our power play. We gained some confidence tonight, but we have to continue making the right plays late in the game."
After a scoreless first period, Youds gave Minnesota State a 1-0 lead, scoring from Kurt Davis 46 seconds into the middle stanza during a Maverick 5-on-3 advantage. The two teams combined for 29 shots in the period and Denver trailed 1-0 at the second intermission.
Donovan got Denver on the board midway through the third period, netting a power-play goal from Makowski and freshman Beau Bennett (Gardena, Calif.) at 9:35. Minnesota State took a 2-1 advantage just over a minute later when Burkemper scored at 11:56 from Eli Zuck.
The Pioneers went back on the power play and tied the game at 2-2 when Makowski scored unassisted from just below the blueline at 13:35.
Minnesota State almost won the game at the buzzer, but Joe Schiller's rebound shot came just after time expired.
Zucker's wrist shot on a rush from the top of the right circle deflected off Lee and into the net for the game-winner at 1:29 of overtime.
Both teams recorded 34 shots. Denver was 2-of-4 on the power play. Minnesota State was 1-of-6.
Denver plays next Friday in the semifinals of the WCHA Final Five. North Dakota, Bemidji State, Minnesota Duluth and Alaska Anchorage also clinched Final Five berths tonight.
Notes: Denver seeks its first WCHA Final Five title since 2008. The Pioneers lead the league with 15 WCHA playoff championships. Zucker leads DU with six game-winning goals. The Pioneers are seventh in the latest PairWise Rankings. Denver is unbeaten at 10-0-2 in its last 12 games against the Mavericks. Denver's three-game winning streak is its first since Jan. 15-22.