ST. PAUL (AP) -- Players in the WCHA have a better chance of spelling Denver goalie Wade Dubielewicz's surname than getting a puck past him.
He proved it once again on Friday and Saturday as he led the Pioneers (32-7-1) to the conference crown in the WCHA Final Five at the Xcel Energy Center. Dubielewicz shutout Colorado College 3-0 Friday, and followed with a 5-2 win over Minnesota, which had a nine-game winning streak, in Saturday's championship game.
"Wade is the best goalie in the country, period," said Denver coach George Gwozdecky. "He's proven that all year and he proved it again this weekend."
Dubielewicz stopped 38 of the Gophers' 40 shots in the title game.
"From day one, we've had three goals, and we accomplished two of them tonight," said Dubielewicz, the tournament's MVP. "All year we've been opportunistic in the first and second periods, and then shut the door in the third. We did that again tonight."
Denver's victory marks just the second time in a decade that the WCHA's regular season champs have won the playoff title as well.
The Pioneers' David Neale opened the scoring in the first, converting on a power play. The lead was extended to 2-0 in the second when a Jesse Cook blast deflected off Kevin Ulanski and into the net. A minute later, Minnesota's Keith Ballard answered. The teams then traded goals again, with Max Bull's unassisted goal giving Denver a 3-1 advantage and Troy Riddle scoring on a Minnesota power play.
Pioneers forward Greg Barber put the game out of reach with a breakaway goal midway through the third period to give Denver a two-goal lead. Kevin Doell added an empty net goal in the final minute.
"It seemed like every time we had a chance to get back into it, Denver would score, and they're a very, very good team when playing with a lead," said Minnesota coach Don Lucia.
The Gophers (29-7-4) defeated St. Cloud State 4-1 on Friday to reach the title game.
The Huskies, who held the No. 1 ranking in the country earlier in the season, will enter the NCAA tournament on a sour note. Their high-powered offense only mustered one goal in each of their two games, finishing fourth in the WCHA Final Five.
Colorado College goaltender Jeff Sanger, playing in his third game in three days, clamped down on St. Cloud State (29-10-2). He survived a 15-shot onslaught in the third to secure a 2-1 win in the third-place game. He finished with 35 saves.
"They came at us pretty hard and they have a lot of offensive power and talent," said Sanger. "We just had to keep our composure and play simple hockey for 20 minutes."
The Huskies jumped out to the early lead with a Colin Peters goal, but after that it was all Sanger.
"I'm a little puzzled by the fact that we scored just two goals in two games, but Jeff Sanger had a lot to do with that today," said St. Cloud State coach Craig Dahl. "There comes a time when a coach can't criticize his own team and instead has to tip his hat to the other team."
The Tigers' Richard Petiot tied it up in the first, and Chris Hartsburg sent a low shot through a crowd to beat Huskies goalie Dean Weasler for the game winner in the second.
The Tigers won the third-place game for the sixth time in seven seasons.
Colorado College (26-12-3) defeated Wisconsin 3-2 in overtime Thursday before being shutout by Denver on Friday, sending the Tigers to the consolation game.
The WCHA's top four teams will be in the West region of the NCAA tournament March 22-23 in Ann Arbor, Mich. The semifinals and championship are scheduled for April 4 and 6 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Denver has the top seed in the West while Minnesota is second. Both teams get a first-round bye. Fifth-seeded St. Cloud will play Michigan while sixth-seeded Colorado will play Michigan St. in the first round.
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