DENVER - Sophomore Jason Zucker (Las Vegas, Nev.) tallied two goals and added an assist to propel No. 16 Denver past Bemidji State 3-2 in WCHA action Saturday night at Magness Arena. The Pioneers complete their second WCHA sweep of the season and improve to 13-8-3, 8-5-3 WCHA.
Chris Knowlton (Colorado Springs, Colo.) added a goal and Joey LaLeggia (Burnaby, British Columbia) recorded three assists in the win, knocking the Beavers to 11-11-2 overall, 5-9-2 WCHA.
Denver, already playing without injured starters Sam Brittain (Calgary, Alberta), Beau Bennett (Gardena, Calif.), David Makowski (Wildwood, Mo.) and John Ryder (Colorado Springs, Colo.), added Drew Shore (Denver, Colo.) to the injury list prior to the game and lost Zac Larraza (Scottsdale, Ariz.) to injury and Scott Mayfield (St. Louis, Mo.) to a game misconduct which forced the Pioneers to play with 12 forwards and four defensemen much of the game.
"I thought we came out and played hard to start this game, we were more prepared than we have been on Saturdays recently," DU head coach George Gwozdecky said. "We had a real test and that's as good a team win as we've had all year long. Certainly it's great to have Jason Zucker back, he scored two big goals and I am as excited about the effort we got tonight, considering the situation, as I have been in a long, long time."
Zucker made an immediate impact in the DU lineup this weekend, finishing the series with two goals and three assists in a pair of Denver wins.
Ben Kinne staked Bemidji State to a 1-0 lead at 10:50 of the opening stanza, beating Denver goaltender Juho Olkinuora (Helsinki, Finland), who finished the evening with 25 saves.
Jamie MacQueen was assessed with a five-minute major and a game-misconduct for checking-from-behind at 12:42 of the first, giving the Pioneers a five-minute power play.
Zucker evened the score at 1-1 at 16:47 of the first on the ensuing man-advantage, firing a shot from the bottom of the left circle past BSU netminder Dan Bakala (25 saves). LaLeggia and Mayfield picked up assists on the goal.
Mayfield received a five-minute major and a game misconduct for checking-from-behind with 20 seconds left in the first, giving the Beavers 4:40 of power-play time to start the second period.
BSU capitalized on the lengthy man-advantage for a 2-1 lead on a goal from defenseman Brady Wacker at 2:27 of the middle frame.
Knowlton tied the game at 2-2 at 6:14 of the final period, with a blast from the top of the left circle off a drop pass from Zucker.
Zucker banged in a rebound off a LaLeggia shot from just outside the crease for the game-winning goal at 11:50 of the third period. Ty Loney (Valenca, Pa.) added an assist on Zucker's game-winner.
Denver outshot Bemidji State, 28-27, and went 2-for-4 on the power play. The Beavers went 1-for-3 on the power play.
The Pioneers return to action at Alaska Anchorage on Jan. 27-28. Puck drop is at 9:07 p.m. MT both nights.
Notes: Denver improves to 11-1 all-time against Bemidji State. DU is 14th in the latest PairWise Rankings. LaLeggia has 11 points (3g, 8a) during his six-game point streak and leads NCAA rookie blueliners in scoring. Loney has nine points (4g, 5a) during his five-game point streak.