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NCAA Frozen Four

Denver Wins Again

Pioneers' Title Is Their Seventh: Denver 4, North Dakota 1

Associated Press
Sunday, April 10, 2005; Page E05

COLUMBUS, Ohio, April 9 -- Freshman Paul Stastny scored two goals and Peter Mannino made them stand up with an almost flawless performance in goal to help Denver successfully defend its national title with a 4-1 victory over North Dakota on Saturday night.

After Coach George Gwozdecky won his 400th game the last time Denver beat North Dakota -- last month in the conference semifinals -- he stopped the celebration to address his team.


Denver's Kevin Ulanski holds aloft the NCAA championship trophy. (Jay Laprete -- AP)

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"I told them, 'Thank you very much. But it sure would be a lot sweeter to celebrate after No. 405,' " Gwozdecky said.

It was the seventh national title for Denver (32-9-2), which was ranked No. 1 for most of the season.

Stastny, the son of NHL Hall of Famer Peter Stastny, also had an assist on Gabe Gauthier's empty-netter. Jeff Drummond scored the Pioneers' first goal, Kevin Ulanski had two assists and Gauthier had an assist to go with his 26th goal of the year.

Mannino, who was selected the most outstanding player of the Frozen Four, had a career-high 44 saves two nights after stopping 41 shots in a 6-2 win over Colorado College in the semifinal.

"My team allowed me to see the puck," Mannino said. "When there were rebounds, they cleaned them right away. I just wanted to keep [the Fighting Sioux] off the board, and it worked out."

With the score tied at 1 midway through the second period, Denver scored on a power play. The Pioneers had six power-play goals in their win in the semifinal after scoring on just three of their 45 power-play chances leading into the Frozen Four.

Ulanski's hard slap shot from the top of the right circle sliced through heavy traffic in the slot, catching the blade of Stastny's stick. He redirected it high over the right shoulder of goaltender Jordan Parise, who could do nothing but watch the puck settle in the net.

Stastny added his 17th goal in the third period to give Mannino and the Pioneers' defense a cushion.

Again on the power play, defenseman Matt Carle faked a defender to the ice and then sidestepped him, throwing a blind pass that Stastny converted with a hard one-timer.

Mannino did the rest. The Fighting Sioux (25-15-5) pulled their goalkeeper for a man advantage for most of the last two minutes but couldn't get the puck past him.

He ran his record to 3-0-0 in NCAA play and has been at his best when the games mean the most, surrendering just five goals in his last six games.

"He made an awful lot of good saves," said rookie North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol, who led his team to the title game despite a fifth-place finish in the league. "That's one factor you can't control in a hockey game -- how the guy wearing the pads at the other end is going to play."

Denver improved to 7-2 in NCAA title games and swept all four meetings with the Fighting Sioux this season. The Pioneers' seventh title tied them with North Dakota for second place behind Michigan's nine.

The last four national champions have come from the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, which became the first conference to have all the NCAA semifinalists.

Denver, 26-1-1 this year when scoring first, used a fluky goal to open the scoring.

Ulanski found a loose puck on his stick as he skated past the goal line. Almost as an afterthought, he threw the puck at the crease and it ricocheted off the left skate of North Dakota defenseman Matt Smaby. Drummond was there to jam it in.


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