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Juho Olkinuora
Courtesy: Clarkson Creative
Juho Olkinuora
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Final Five Championship Preview vs. North Dakota
Courtesy: Denver Athletics  
Release: 03/17/2012
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DENVER - No. 3 seed Denver (25-12-4) plays No. 4 seed North Dakota (24-12-3) in the championship game of the 2012 Red Baron WCHA Final Five on Saturday, March 17. Puck drop is set for 6:07 p.m. MT at the Xcel Energy Center (18,064). The game will be televised live on ROOT SPORTS and FS North, and broadcast live on Denver's Sports Station 102.3 ESPN. Blog and audiocast are available on www.DenverPioneers.com, while live stats are available on www.WCHA.com.

FOR OPENERS
The winner of today's championship game between Denver (25-12-4) and North Dakota (24-12-3) will receive an automatic bid into the 2012 NCAA Tournament.

DU is eighth in the lastest PairWise Rankings.

Denver leads the WCHA with 15 playoff championships and is 10-5 all-time at the Xcel Energy Center, including playoff titles in 2002, 2005 and 2008.

The Pioneers are on a four-game winning streak and their last three games have gone to overtime.

Denver is 13-8 all-time at the WCHA Final Five and 80-58-6 in the WCHA Playoffs. The Pioneers are 12-12-1 against North Dakota in the WCHA Playoffs.

DU's Senior Class of 2012 will be the second in school history to participate in four NCAA Tournaments.

IN NET
All-WCHA Rookie Team goaltender Juho Olkinuora (9-7-3, 2.07 GAA, .928 Sv%) will start in net for for Denver. Olkinuora is 1-1-0 with a 1.49 goals against average and .949 save percentage in the postseason. Olkinuora is 1-0-0 with 3.00 goals against average and .900 save percentage in one game against the Fighting Sioux.
 
LAST TIME OUT
Zac Larraza's first collegiate goal and Sam Brittain's school record 67 saves lifted No. 3 seed Denver to a 4-3 double overtime victory over No. 2 seed Minnesota Duluth in the longest game in WCHA Final Five history Friday. Shawn Ostrow added a goal and an assist, and Jason Zucker and Dustin Jackson each scored a goal for the Pioneers. Mike Seidel tallied two goals and Jack Connolly added another for Minnesota Duluth (24-9-6) and Kenny Reiter made 45 saves in the loss. Larraza won the game for Denver with a backhand goal at the 8:14 mark of the second overtime. Minnesota Duluth outshot Denver 70-49 and went 1-for-4 on the power play. The Pioneers went 0-for-5 on the man-advantage.

INJURY REPORT
Defenseman Paul Phillips (lower body), forward Chris Knowlton (lower body), forward Beau Bennett (wrist) and defensman David Makowski (upper body) are out with injuries.

ALL-TIME VS. NORTH DAKOTA
North Dakota holds a 134-116-8 advantage over DU in the all-time series that dates back to 1950. Denver charted a 4-3 loss and 5-3 win against North Dakota on Feb. 24-25. The Pioneers are 3-2 against the Fighting Sioux at the Final Five, including a 1-1 mark in the Final Five title game. Denver beat North Dakota 4-3 in the 1999 final and the Sioux beat DU 3-2 in double overtime for the 2011 title. Denver is 2-3 in its last five games against the Sioux and 5-5 in its last 10.

SPECIAL TEAMS
The Pioneers rank fourth in the WCHA on the power play at 22.5 percent. DU is 1-for-16 (6.2%) on the power play in five WCHA playoff games. The Pioneers rank second in the league on the penalty kill at 83 percent and are 23-for-24 (95.8%) on the penalty kill over their last eight games.

PLAYER NOTES
Drew Shore ranks second in the WCHA with a career-high 52 points. Sophomore Jason Zucker (22-24=46) has amassed 45 or more points for the second straight year. Nick Shore has a four-game point streak and at least one point in 11 of 12 games. Shawn Ostrow has career-highs in points  (21), goals (11) and assists (10).


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