It wasn't a good weekend to be a perennial powerhouse in the WCHA.
In Mankato, the Mavericks dispatched Minnesota 3-2 on Friday. In Denver, the defending MacNaughton Cup champion Pioneers lost 3-2 to Minnesota-Duluth.
Now, Colorado College (8-1-1, 5-0-1 WCHA) sits atop the league with an undefeated conference record and Minnesota-Duluth (2-3-3, 2-2-2) is in third place.
The Gophers (5-2-2, 2-1-1) lost leading scorer Troy Riddle in the second period of Friday's loss, and a Matt Paluczak goal through Travis Weber's legs at 14:12 in the third period sealed the win for Minnesota State, Mankato (2-4-2, 1-2-1). But Riddle iced the shoulder and came back on Saturday night, scoring two goals and dishing two assists in the Gophers' 7-4 win. The goals elevated Riddle's season total to 12 -- the best in the league.
"It was really sore last night, and I iced it and got some therapy before (Saturday's) game," said Riddle, who leads the Gophers with 19 points. "We said before the game that no matter what happened, we had to do what we needed to do to win. This game was obviously very important."
Paul Martin also tallied two goals and an assist for Minnesota on Saturday. Grant Stevenson scored in both games for Minnesota State, Mankato.
In other WCHA action, Colorado College swept Alaska-Anchorage, North Dakota split with St. Cloud State and Minnesota-Duluth lost to Denver on Saturday.
Duluth's win over Denver (8-2-0, 3-1-0) on Friday was Bulldog coach Scott Sandelin's first in nine tries against the Pioneers. Freshman goaltender Isaac Reichmuth stopped 41 of 43 Denver shots on the game.
"That's a very disappointing loss," said Denver goalkeeper Wade Dubielewicz said. "(Friday night) we didn't step to it. When any team in our conference comes in, it's a tough game to win. (Duluth) pretty much out-finished us. I think we outplayed them, but we couldn't clear the puck."
Saturday's game was riddled with penalties, and at one point in the third period six Pioneers crowded the Denver penalty box, giving Duluth a 5-on-3 power play with 12 seconds to play.
Denver amassed a 4-1 lead before Duluth pulled Reichmuth in the second period. The teams combined for 50 penalty minutes in the game's final 14 minutes.
"They battled hard," said Denver's Jason Grahame. "They like to run around and play physical, pretty much like everybody in the WCHA. They came at us, but it was a good response from (Friday) night. We're happy to come away with the win."
Colorado College scored four unanswered goals and outshot Alaska Anchorage 15-3 in the final period as the Tigers beat the Seawolves 5-2 Saturday. Colorado College's Curtis McElhinney made 15 saves, while Kevin Reiter stopped 29 shots for the Seawolves (1-5-2, 0-3-1). The win capped an impressive 4-1 victory on Friday, in which four players scored for the Tigers. Ales Parez scored the Seawolves' only goal on Friday.
North Dakota avenged a 7-3 loss to St. Cloud State with a 3-2 overtime victory on Saturday. James Massen scored 47 seconds into the extra period to give the Fighting Sioux the victory. North Dakota forced the overtime with a Zach Parise goal at 16:52 in the third period. Josh Siemba made 17 saves for the Fighting Sioux (7-1-0, 1-1-0), while Jason Montgomery notched 27 stops for the Huskies.
Ryan Malone had a hat trick and Jon Cullen had one goal and four assists for St. Cloud (4-3-1, 2-1-1) on Friday.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.