MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Cade Fairchild had a goal and three assists to lead Minnesota to a 7-3 win over fourth-ranked Denver on Saturday.

The Gophers (12-12-4, 9-10-3) took charge early, scoring three times in the first 12 minutes of the game and adding three more goals in the second period. The Gophers kept up the pressure all game, outshooting Denver 44-34.

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The loss could cost Denver the lead in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, depending on the outcome of Saturday night’s game between Alaska-Anchorage and North Dakota. A North Dakota win would move the Fighting Sioux into first place, one point ahead of the Pioneers.

Jacob Cepis and Taylor Mattson netted the first two goals less than a minute apart against freshman goalie Sam Brittain. Cepis scored at 7:22 of the first and Mattson at 8:18.

After Erik Haula scored 33 seconds into the second period for a 4-0 lead, Denver (18-7-5, 14-5-3) replaced Brittain with Adam Murray, who gave up the last two goals of the period. They combined for 37 saves.

Mike Hoeffel, Nick Bjugstad and Patrick White also scored for Minnesota. Haula added two assists.

Kent Patterson had 31 saves for the Gophers.

Beau Bennett, Chris Knowlton and John Lee scored for the Pioneers.

The seven goals were the most scored by Minnesota against Denver since an 8-5 win in the 2002-03 season.

Denver’s Jon Cook received a game misconduct for checking from behind in the second period and Minnesota’s Jake Hansen and Denver’s William Wrenn got match penalty’s for a fight in the third period.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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