His leadership was again called upon last weekend. On Friday evening Gwozdecky met with Caldwell and his assistant captains to tell them that senior forward Lukas Dora, who'd scored the game-winner against Minnesota-Duluth, had violated a team rule. ( Denver refused to divulge the transgression.) After consulting with the captains, Gwozdecky suspended Dora, the team's third-leading scorer, for the final. "It was a tough decision," said Caldwell after Saturday's game. "But we're a team here, and it was something we felt had to be done."
Before being suspended, Dora, nettlesome on the ice and mouthy in the dressing room, told anyone who would listen, "We shouldn't have any problem with Maine." But the Pioneers did. The Black Bears kept Denver on its heels for most of the match, and Maine center Derek Damon scored a first-period goal that was disallowed because a teammate's skate was in the crease. Under heavy pressure from Maine, the Pioneers provided magnificent protection for Berkhoel: Of the 51 shots the Black Bears attempted, 27 were blocked by body-sacrificing forwards or defensemen. Said Maine coach Tim Whitehead, "Their ability to block shots was the difference in the game."
So was that majestic last stand, which clinched the third shutout in title-game history and returned to prominence a program with a rich but musty tradition: five NCAA titles from 1958 to '69, and an alumni list that includes distinguished former NHL players Craig Patrick, Glenn Anderson, Kevin Dineen and the late Keith Magnuson.
An hour after the game most of the Pioneers had showered and donned suits in preparation for a long prowl through the Boston night, but Gauthier was still wobbling around the room in his skates, stick in hand, sweat-stained jersey on his back. Someone reminded him that the game was over, but Gauthier didn't seem to care. "Hey, this is great," he said. "I don't want this moment to end."