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Denver received the No. 2 seed in the Midwest Region. Denver's regional opponents will be the Western Michigan Broncos No. 3 seed (who they face off with first), the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) Engineers No. 4 seed and foe North Dakota Fighting Sioux No. 1 seed. The Pios, in very limited action, are 2-2 against the Broncos, 11-1 versus the Engineers and 115-132-8 against conference mate North Dakota. The Pios do hold a historical advantage in the NCAA tourney going 4-1 versus the Sioux and won their only match versus RPI. To start things off on Saturday the 26th of March the Sioux will face RPI at 11:30am MDT and DU will face WMU at 3pm. The winners will face of Sunday, March 27th at 3:30 MDT. The Frozen Four starts Thursday the 7th of April
The Midwest Regional games will be played at the Resch Center in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Resch Center has been prettied up and newly painted with the NCAA logos. Hosting the event will be Michigan Tech University (the only way they are getting close to the tourney) and PMI Entertainment Group. The last time Green Bay hosted, five years ago, the final game came down to a 3OT thriller in which Wisconsin beat Cornell 1-0.
There are many previews out there including from
College Hockey News also does a great job following the whole Tournament.
The Tournament has been criticized for its structure, the one loss and done, way of doing things. In fact in the past four tourneys, No. 1 seeds are just 9-7 against No. 4 seeds in the first round. The conclusion some might take is luck means much more than quality of the team. Not sure I am fully on board with that way of thinking, although I would like to see series match-up as opposed to only one game, but it does mean your squad better be on top of their game from dropping of the puck.
Lastly my sure to be completely wrong predictions
West Regional - Yale vs. Air Force: AF; Union vs. Minnesota-Duluth: Union; Regional Final: Union
Northeast Regional - Miami vs. New Hampshire: Miami; Merrimack vs. Notre Dame: Merrimack; Regional Final: Miami
Midwest Regional - North Dakota vs. RPI: RPI Denver vs. Western Michigan; Denver; Regional Final: Denver
West Regional - Boston College vs. Colorado College: CC; Michigan vs. Nebraska-Omaha: Michigan; Regional Final: Michigan
In traditional 2010-2011 DU fashion they were behind at the end of the first period 1-2 (even though they started the scoring for once) and tied 2-2 at the end of the second. Then, once again, the third period came and DU adjusted, scoring four in the final twenty minutes.
Kyle Ostrow started and finished the scoring with a goal at six minutes into the first period and an empty netter in the last couple minutes of the third. Also scoring for Denver were Drew and Nick Shore, Jarrod Mermis and Luke Salazar. Getting assists for the Pios were Matt Donovan, Chris Nutini, Beau Bennett, David Makowski, Drew Shore, Anthony Maiani (2), Jason Zucker, John Ryder and Shawn Ostrow. A great sign for DU is everyone was involved... evidenced by thirteen of eighteen Pios getting on the score sheet. Another good sign was Denver was 2-3 on the power play, something they struggled with early in the season. DU also got a strong performance from Sam Brittain as he made 36 saves on 38 shots.
DU will now wait for the second semi-final match-up between North Dakota and Colorado College. Either match-up will pit DU against a bitter rival so I am sure they are just rooting for a 6-OT game no matter who the winner is.
Denver is preparing the best it can for this weekends Frozen Five Tournament. Friday's semi-final with be the No. 2-seeded Pios versus No. 6 Bemidji State (14-17-5) who beat No. 3 Minnesota-Duluth (22-9-6) in Thursday's quarterfinal. Denver won both games versus Bemidji State this season. The other side of the bracket will be No. 1 North Dakota (28-8-3) playing the winner of the No. 5 Alaska-Anchorage (16-17-3) and No. 4 Colorado College (21-17-3). Denver, who has more WCHA playoff championships (15) than any other is making their fourth straight Frozen Five appearance
With the Broadmoor Trophy up for grabs DU has brought back some big guns to help them focus.
To get his team focused on the task ahead, Pioneers coach George Gwozdecky is going to have former stars Mark Rycroft, Gabe Gauthier and Paul Stastny talk to the team today after practice.
"They're going to talk about their experiences at this time of the year, tournament time, and hopefully expound some of their wisdom on how they prepared in order to help our guys accomplish our goals," Gwozdecky said.
Adrian Dater writes about how it appears, in prior seasons, the Pios had been less focused on the playoffs at hand and more on their future as NHLers. Coach Gwozdecky has his own opinions: he believes it's a yearly distraction that affects many teams. It's a part of the current culture of college hockey and teams need to deal with it. Gwozdecky also believes that injuries and recovery time are major factors instead of NHL futures for his players.
Drew Shore believes this year is different than last year's. Pro futures may have been a large concern around this time last year, but this set of players is different. They just want to win.
The Pios were a bit of a surprise this year but Coach Gwozdecky has a way of repeating the same type of surprises every year. This year is was Jason Zucker and Drew Shore
"I don't think that any of us on our staff expected Jason to come in and provide the type of offensive numbers that he put up," Gwozdecky said of Zucker.
As for Shore, "he came into this year and started out really, right from the very first game and has been a major part of our team and where we are at right now.
Let hope the young Pios and keep focused this weekend and bring home the Broadmoor Trophy.
D-rah! E-rah! N-rah! VER Boom.
Denver, our Denver,
We sing to thee,
Fairest of colleges,
Give her three times three,
Rah, rah, rah!
Long may we cherish
her Faithful and true.
University of Denver
For me and you.
Well, tourney time is here. To start things off we have the WCHA tourney, first round is this weekend. Six teams will be eliminated this weekend to set-up the frozen five (actually six) in St. Paul Minnesota next weekend. For the first time, six teams will advance (because of the expansion of the WCAH to twelve teams) and battle for the Broadmoor Trophy and entrance to the NCAA Tournament. Round one pits the No. 1 seed versus No. 12, No. 2 versus No. 11 and so on, which is how we get DU (No. 2) playing MSU (No. 11) this weekend at Magness. For complete details on the WCHA tourney see the WHCA website.
Following the first round of WCHA playoffs, the six winning teams will be re-seeded No. 1 thru No. 6 according to their regular season finish and will then advance to the 2011 Red Baron™; WCHA Final Five at Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, Minn. The Final Five will be contested March 17, 18 and 19. There will be two quarterfinal games on Thursday at 3:37 pm CT and 7:07 pm CT, two semi-final games on Friday at 2:07 pm CT and 7:07 pm CT, with the Broadmoor Trophy championship contest on Saturday at 7:07 pm CT. The No. 1 and No. 2 seeded teams for the Final Five will receive a bye on Thursday. The winner of the Broadmoor Trophy receives the WCHA's automatic berth in the NCAA Div. 1 Men's Ice Hockey championship tournament.
The WCHA announced their annual awards yesterday, March 10, 2011. A recap can be read here.
Their opinions, which I am positive, are more intelligent than mine, differ in a couple areas. Here is my nobody really cares about my opinion but here you go anyway ballot:
Player of the Year: Matt Frattin (seriously can't be anyone else, even I smart enough to know this), North Dakota; Rookie of the Year: Jason Zucker (another no-brainer but only because Jaden Schwartz, CC was injured, he "might" have made it close), Denver Coach of the Year: Dean Blais, Nebraska-Omaha (But close considering the job Gwozdecky did with such a young DU team).
First Team F-Matt Frattin, North Dakota; F-Jack Connolly, Minnesota-Duluth; F-Jason Zucker, Denver; D-Jake Gardiner, Wisconsin D-Eric Olimb, Nebraska-Omaha;(leaving Justin Schultz, Wisconsin off might seem a bit stupid, but his +/- for the season was even while Olimb was a +12 and defensemen are supposed to be graded a little bit by their defense aren't they); G-Kent Patterson, Minnesota (the Gophers MVP, and it isn't even close)
Second Team F-Jaden Schwartz, CC;F-Drew Shore, Denver (he was a +29 for those of you who scoff at this homer pick only Zucker was close at a +24); F-Jason Gregoire, North Dakota; D-Chay Genoway, North Dakota; D-Justin Schultz, Wisconsin; G-Aaron Dell, North Dakota
Third Team (lets see if we can fill this with teams not yet represented); F-Tommy Grant, Alaska Anchorage(tied for most game winning goals); F-Matt Read, Bemidji State; F-Garrett Roe, St. Could State; D-Deron Cousens, Michigan Tech (cause I feel sorry for him); D-Kurt Davis, Minnesota State; G-Sam Brittain, Denver (cause he deserved it)
All Rookie Team F-Jason Zucker, Denver; F-Jaden Schwartz, Colorado College; F-Nick Bjugstad Minnesota; D-David Makowski, Denver; D-Justins Faulk, Minnesota-Duluth; G- Sam Brittain, Denver
Considering the all the Pios on the All-Rookie team, should we ask the question? Is this DU's best recruiting class ever?
Now back to DU and this weekends match-up. It looks like this, the Pios and Mavs meet for the first time in the WCHA Playoffs, which is a bit surprising. DU hosts the first round of the WCHA Playoffs for the 8th season in a row and seek their fourth consecutive trip to the WCHA Final Five (yes actually six). The Pios won three of four games and tied in the other this season against MSU but two went into overtime and one was a one point game. For more information see the DU website. What ever you want to call it, the second season, playoff season, championship season, etc.... we can all agree it has its share of breathless moments, exhilarating periods, electrifying play, thrilling wins and is an intoxicating time of the year.
The last regular season series pits Denver against the Huskies of St. Cloud State. A matchup that has been very even since the series started in 1988. DU is 37-31-4 all-time against SCSU. The Pioneers are 19-19-2 against the Huskies at home, including four straight two-game series splits. Denver is currently 2nd in the WCHA and while they could tie for the league title, the odds are against it as they would have to sweep the Huskies and North Dakota would have to get swept by.. ahem, Michigan Tech. It is much more likely they will end up right where they are now. Considering the 3rd and 4th place teams play each other, they can do no worse than 3rd. SCSU who is currently 8th could finish as high as 5th. Here are some more notes on the series
Jason Zucker was named National Rookie of the Month
Zucker leads the WCHA in scoring (36 points) and is tied for first in goals (20) in 24 league games. He leads WCHA rookies in goals and scoring for league and all games. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound freshman is riding a career best nine-game point streak (4-10-14). He is second among NCAA rookies in points per game (1.19) and tied for second in goals (20).
It appears Captain Kyle Ostrow will be back in action this weekend. Hopefully, he will join the century club at Denver. One thing I do know for sure, his leadership will be a welcome addition heading into playoff season.
Playoff hockey, an exciting time where everything gets a bit more... tense. Goals become more important, as does your goaltending. We have seen strong goaltending carry the Pios to WCHA (15) and NCAA (7) tournament championships. What is in store for this very young Pios team? We will have to wait to find out... but I can tell you the hope and excitement surrounding the playoff season is a time I can't wait for every year.
Denver deservedly dropped a couple spots in the polls after last weekend's disappointment, only taking two points at home against Michigan Tech. UNO had their own rough Friday night, losing to AAU. Just like Denver though they bounced back on Saturday. Denver moved to 15-6-3 good for second in the WCHA, two points back of North Dakota. UNO is tied with Minnesota-Duluth only one point back of the Pios. Both teams have clinched home ice for the first round of the WCHA Playoffs. The Pios are 7-2 all-time against the Mavericks in the very young series, started in 1997.
Special teams could decide this weekend's matchup. The Pios have been giving their opponents too many opportunities; this is evident as they lead the WCHA in penalty minutes. For reasons only Coach Gwozdecky can explain they have been getting away with it. The Pios have the best penalty kill in the league and have scored a WCHA leading five shorthanded goals. UNO’s power play has been on the decline as they Mavericks have only scored three goals on forty-three chances since January 22nd. Denver needs a good start, they are 17-0-3 when leading or tied after two periods. UNO has been good at home and on only one occasion have they let a team leave the Qwest Center with more than two points (that one time was in January though).
Mike Chambers talks about Dustin Jackson roots in Omaha and Coach Gwozdecky talks about the MacNuaghton cup
"It's a terrific race, certainly . . . But we're looking forward to this weekend for a number of reasons. We want to build off what we reestablished last Saturday (5-1 win over MTU), because there's no question that our previous five games weren't our best. We want to continue to build because, with four games left in the regular season, there's not much more time to fine-tune your game before the postseason. So that's the emphasis right now."
In some Jesse Martin feel good news: Time to call it a comeback?
This will be the only time the Pioneers face the Huskies in regular season action this season. Denver's record against MTU is 114-81-18. They first faced off in 1951. The Pioneers have a winning record of 76-26-10 mark against the MTU in Denver, including a 13-game unbeaten streak at Magness Arena. DU also has an eight-game overall winning streak against Michigan Tech. They have outscored the Huskies, 35-13, during the streak.
Michigan Tech is on a record setting streak (winless in 26 straight games), one Denver would like to help them extend. The Huskies are 3-23-4 on the season, a winning percentage of .167, which is actually better than their 2009 winning percentage of .153. To say it is a low point in Huskies history is being kind. The Huskies are last the WCHA in goals scored per game (1.73) and goals allowed per game (4.09). One kind thing I can say about Michigan Tech is they do have a storied history including three national championships (1962,1965 and 1975) and seven WCHA championships.
Denver will be happy to be home as they haven't lost since Oct. 16 and are 9-0-1 in conference play. Denver can reach the 20 win plateau for the 10th straight season with a sweep this weekend. The Pios are currently ranked No. 4 in the USCHO poll, the USA Today poll, RPI and pairwise rankings. They are also one point from the WCHA lead. All those things put DU in great shape for a NCAA tourney bid.
In players news, David Makowski, who is having an excellent freshman year leading WCHA rookie defensemen with 21 points won't be in Friday's lineup against the Huskies after receiving a five-minute major and 10-minute game disqualification for fighting at Minnesota last Saturday. Also, Kyle Ostrow won't be getting his 100th point for the Pios anytime soon as Kyle had emergency surgery last Friday. Mike Chambers at the Denver Post has more.
Lastly for those ready for playoff hockey WCHA tickets are now on sale.
The fourth-ranked Denver Pioneers (17-6-5, 13-4-3 WCHA) travel to Minnesota (11-11-4, 8-9-3 WCHA) and will join in on the five year-old tradition, Hockey Day. Hockey Day Minnesota is a day in Minnesota run in cooperation with the Minnesota Wild and Fox Sports North that features at least two Minnesota high school boys hockey games, a Minnesota Gopher men's hockey game and a Minnesota Wild NHL game. Interestingly enough this is Denver's third time being involved in Hockey Day, the Pios lost in 2007 and won in 2008. This will be only time they will face off in the regular season this year. The Pios are tied with North Dakota a top the WCHA standing with 29 points, while the Gophers are in eighth with 19 points. The Pios have won their last four games at Mariucci Arena.
Last weekend Denver held on to the Gold Pan by splitting with CC, losing Friday night 2-3 but winning Saturday night at Magness 5-3. Jesse Martin spoke at the midway point of period one.
"What Jesse said during that break seemed to really give us some life," Denver head coach George Gwozdecky said. "All of the sudden the whole tide turned, we had energy and we had a great finish."
Denver has nine players with 14 points or more this season. The breakdown looks like this, two seniors, one junior, two sophomores and four freshmen. Just so we don't forget out the defense Sam Brittain, Denver's top goalie is also a freshman. While the backup Adam Murray is just a sophomore. Things look good for Denver's present and future.
Other Pioneer notes:
Kyle Ostrow (50-49=99) needs just one point to join the DU 100-point club.
Drew Shore took home some honors for his play last weekend.
Some links from around college hockey nation:
Another excellent preview from Mike Chambers at the Denver Post.
The Daily Gopher a SB Nation blog, gives us a Minnesota perspective.
Roman Augustoviz also has a preview of the weekend series.
Pio, John Lee is profiled in his hometown paper The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead.
When we last talked about this rivalry Denver was ranked No. 13 and Colorado College was off to a (3-4-1) start. Much has changed since that early November matchup. DU is now ranked No. 2 while CC just made it into the polls at No. 20. CC went 8-3-0 after the series with Denver, but has fallen off lately losing four of their last seven. With two of those wins coming against Alabama-Huntsville, not exactly a powerhouse. Since the last series, the Pios have won 12 with three ties and only one loss. A streak some say inspired by the 9-2 loss at the World Arena.
CC has had some injury issues including star freshman Jaden Schwartz, who has been out for 11 games. Denver is getting healthy with Sophomore forward Chris Knowlton (ankle) the only Pio on the injury report for this weekend. The Pioneers finally regained possession of the Gold Pan Trophy last season, after three years in Colorado Springs and they do not want to let it go. For CC to win the Gold Pan, they must win and tie/sweep this weekend. If they split again, the Pan will remain in Denver.
For a Tiger perspective see David Ramsey's article at the Colorado Springs Gazette. I really enjoyed the "Evil Empire of the North" comment. The article notes and I agree with the possibility the 9-2 loss by Denver, last time in the Springs, could've been a turning point for the young Pios. DU coach George Gwozdecky agrees saying "It was important for them to go through that".
Mike Chambers of the Denver Post takes a look at this weekends matchup with the sting of the 9-2 loss still fresh on players minds. He also notes Adam Murray will start in goal on Friday while Brittain will go Saturday.
In other notes:
Kyle Ostrow (48-49=97) needs just three points to join the DU 100-point club.
For CC notes versus Denver see link
For Denver versus CC notes see link
Denver Pioneer Nick Shore shows up on Kevin Allen, of USA Today, list of top draft picks.
This is a very important weekend for the young Pioneers with the first of many of their goals within reach, the coveted Gold Pan Trophy.
The DU Pioneers extended their 8 game unbeaten streak by beating the Seawolves 3-2 on Friday night and 5-1 on Saturday night. Captain Kyle Ostrow played one of his finest weekends of hockey, scoring three goals and an assist over the weekend. Ostrow opened the weekend with a goal just 9 seconds into the game on Friday night, finally getting the Pioneers a lead early in game. However, the Pioneers played poor defense in front of Adam Murray and AA tied the game midway thorugh thee 1st. His second of goal gave the Pioneers the lead again in the 2nd period, but again AA game back to tie in up early in the 3rd. Thankfully the Pios went up for good on a great effort by Nick Shore and a solid finish by Beau Bennett to give the Pios a 3-2 win.
The win on Friday moved the Pioneers into 1st place in the WCHA as North Dakota lost 8-4 to Nebraska-Omaha.
Saturday, the Pioneers went back to their old ways giving up a goal early in the game, but thankfully kicked things in gear late in the 1st period. With six minutes left in the first period the Pios had just 2 shots on goal. However they scored 4 goals on their next 8 shots to go up 4-1 early in the 2nd period. Freshman Jarrod Mermis scored his first collegiate goal to get the puck rolling for the Pios. Anothony Maiani then added a shortie to give the Pios the lead for good. From there the Pios decided to post some highlight reel goals.
Beau Bennet took a pass high in the slot, pulled the puck from behind his back and easily beat Rob Gunderson. Kyle Ostrow followed with a 1-1 move of his own to beat the defender to the corner and cut in to the crease to extend the lead to 4-1. Not to be outdone Jason Zucker pulled the puck from behind his back, through his legs and slid his 17th goal of the year into the net. Too bad college hockey doesn’t make “Top Plays” on Sportscenter because the Pios had three goals that were worthly of being mentioned.
DU stays a point ahead of UMD and North Dakota in the race for the McNaughton Cup. DU has next weekend off to prepare for the final two games of the Gold Pan series with CC on February 4/5. The Colorado Spring Gazetter reports that CC won’t have their superstar freshman Jaden Schwartz for the in-state rivalry. This should increase the Pios chance of retaining the trophy.
Its also good to see the Pios get some additional coverage in the local media.
Mark Kizla writes about the PIos recent struggles to win a game in the NCAA tourney.
The two teams will face off for the second time this season. Last time out Denver took three points from Anchorage with 5-3 win and a 2-2 tie. The Seawolves have only played one series since their matchup with DU on Dec. 10 and 11th. They are coming off a sweep of Colorado College last weekend. While Denver took three points from Minnesota State last weekend. Denver (14-5-5, 10-3-3) is second in the WHCA while Alaska Anchorage (7-10-3, 6-8-2) is currently eighth.
Coach Gwozdecky took part in a live chat on Thursday. The transcript in its entirety can be seen here. Coach Gwozdecky talks about the improving play and attributes it to poise and resiliency. He also comments on Jesse Martin and the future of the WCHA.
Coach Gwozdecky continued his resiliency theme in a quote from a Theresa Spisak article at USCHO.com.
"This team has had many examples of that resiliency, whether it's coming from behind or dealing with the injuries that we’ve had, dealing with the loss of one of our captains and our senior center, dealing with so many changes from last year's team; turnover if you will, dealing with a very challenging, difficult early season schedule," said coach George Gwozdecky. "I think that all boils down to what the mental makeup is of this team. They're strong of character and they believe if they all work as one, good things are going to happen."
For proof of this resiliency look no further than the following: Denver is scoreless in the first period during the last four games, opponents have scored the first goal in the last five games and the Pios have come back to win or tie 10 games this season.
Collegehockeynews.com has a good write up on Anchorage and their recent play. The Seawolves head coach Dave Shyiak is quoted as saying, "It starts with our seniors and upperclassmen ... our leaders. A lot of your success is based on your upperclassmen and veterans who have been through the trials and tribulations of the game. They have led our young guys the right way."
Kyle Ostrow (46-47=93) needs only seven points to join the Pioneer's 100-point club.
Chris Knowlton (ankle) is the only Pioneer who is expected to miss the two-game series.
Jesse Martin was the featured speaker at TEDxDU Xpress: Overcoming Adversity event, held Jan. 20, 2011 in Ruffatto Hall at the Morgridge College of Education on the DU campus. See the DU website for the four-part video series. The total video is twenty-eight minutes long but completely worth the time. Listening to Jesse and his never-ending spirit is inspiring.
No. 6 Denver (13-5-4) travels to Mankato this weekend for a two-game series with Minnesota State (10-8-4). The Pios look to keep up their winning ways as they are 7-0-1 in their last eight meetings with the Mavericks, including a sweep earlier this season at Magness arena. The Mankato Free Press has a write-up on the series. You can get the Denver perspective from the DU Clarion.
Minnesota State is playing well and has won eight of their last ten games since being swept by Denver. The Mavs are lead by K. Davis who has 17 points (7g, 10a), M. Dorr (8g, 8a) and B. Youds who has added 15 points (4g, 11a). Phil Cook has been getting most of the goaltending time and leads the Mavs with an 8-7-2 record while posting a 2.91 GAA and .913 Sv%.
The Pioneers are scoring 3.2 goals per game, while allowing 2.5 goals per game. Here is a mid-season update on Denver scoring; Kyle Ostrow (Sr) has 14 points (5g, 9a), Anthony Maiani (5g, 16a), Chris Nutini (0g, 3a), Matt Donovan (6g, 10a) Drew Shore (14g, 11a), Jason Zucker (14g, 7a), Luke Salazar (11g, 8a) and David Makowski (4g, 12a) are some of DU's scoring leaders after 22 games this season. On the defensive side of the ice it has been the in-net performaces of Sam Brittain (10-4-4, 2.06 GAA, .926 Sv%) and Adam Murray (3-1, 4.23 GAA, .849 Sv%) leading the way for Denver. Donovan leads the team in blocked shots (59), penalties (20) and PIMs (40). Drew Shore leads the team with +14 plus/minus rating, while Donovan is second at +13. You can find all this and much more at the DU website
In Denver news it appears the Sam Brittain will be starting in goal on Friday night while Adam Murray will get his chance on Saturday. On the injury front Beau Bennett (knee) and Chris Knowlton (ankle) are doubtful this weekend.
William Wrenn left the team to play for the major-junior's Portland Winterhawks of the WHL.
Mike Chambers has a good article on the Drew Shore and Jason Zucker show at the 2011 IIHF World Junior Championships. The two Pios helped the USA squad take home the bronze.
It's time for DU to make a push towards the playoff season, GO PIOS!!
The 7th ranked Denver Pioneers (12-5-3) return to action, with its last non-conference series, against Northern Michigan (9-8-3) this weekend. DU is 24-29-2 all-time against NMU in the series that dates back to 1980. The schools haven't played each other since 1997. The Pioneers own a 14-10-0 record against the Wildcats in Denver, including a 6-0 mark in the last six meetings. DU is 3-1-1 in its last five meeting against Northern Michigan and 8-1-1 in its last 10, hopefully the trend continues.
Denver will be without their top two forwards as Jason Zucker and Drew Shore are playing for Team USA at the IIHF World Junior Championship in Buffalo, NY. There is good new bad news for the Pios at the World Juniors. First the good news, Team US is on top of group A standings with eight points and with a win or tie against Finland tonight will have a bye through the quarter-finals. Now for the bad news. Jason Zucker took a horrendous cheap shot from Martin Marincin. Zucker sustained a concussion, he is day to day. Zucker didn't suit up for Team USA's last game against Germany. Marincin, who plays for Slovakia received an appropriate four game suspension, basically ending his Juniors experience.
Denver will also be without Beau Bennett (knee) and of course Jesse Martin. The trio of Matt Donovan, Nick Shore and Luke Salazar who are on two-game point streaks will have to cover for the missing firepower.
The Pioneers will honor legendary head coach Murray Armstrong on December 31. Armstrong led the Pios to five NCAA Hockey Championships.
This weekend the Denver Pioneers (11-5-2) are headed out on a 3000 mile trek to Alaska, where they will match-up against the Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves (5-9-2). It will be a home coming for a couple Pios as Adam Murray and William Wrenn both hail from Anchorage. Denver is 41-15-7 all-time versus the Seawolves. The Pios went 2-1-1 against the Seawolves last season, including a win (2-1) and loss (7-3) last season in Anchorage. Denver is 11-1-2 in its last 14 games against the Seawolves at Sullivan Arena. While the Pioneers are only 3-3-1 on the road this season but they have played at Duluth and North Dakota, two top five teams
The Seawolves are lead by Tommy Grant (Sr), Matt Bailey (Fr) and Jordan Kwas (Fr). All three have double digit points. UAAfan has a fan's perspective preview of the 2010-2011 season of the Seawolves. Along with some pretty strong opinions about the Pios this season.
The Pios have been led lately by Drew Shore and his six-game point streak along with Anthony Maiani who has 11 points (5g, 6a) during his seven-game point streak.The Pios have also been buoyed by their special teams play. DU is 14-for-78 (17.9%) on the power play and 77-for-91 (84.6%) on the penalty kill this season. The Pioneers are sizzling 12-for-43 (27.9%) on the power play during the past ten games after starting a horrid 2-for-35 (5.7%).
More accolades for the Pioneers as Jason Zucker wins another WCHA rookie of the week award. While Drew Shore keeps racking up the awards, his latest is the National College Hockey Player of the Month. To top things off for the pair they both made the National Junior Team preliminary roster. A big congratulations to both Denver stars.
One new injury to report, Beau Bennett suffered a right knee sprain against Minnesota Duluth last weekend and won't be available for the UAA series.
Some sad news from Pioneer nation this week as Murray Armstrong has died at the age of 94. The DU website and Denver Post have some memories to share about the Pioneer legend. Coach Armstrong, the Chief as he was often called, was the head coach for the Pioneers from 1956 until 1977, amassing one of the most impressive records in college hockey history, winning five NCAA championships and runners-up four times. Armstrong was inducted into the DU Athletic Hall of Fame in its inaugural class of 1996 and into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame in 1994. When asked current DU head coach George Gwozdecky said "I am extremely saddened to learn of the passing of coach Murray Armstrong," "The game of hockey and the University of Denver has lost one of its great men. Coach Armstrong was the legendary architect of this great DU Pioneer hockey program."
The 10th ranked Pioneers will have a tough task as they face off against the #1 ranked University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs (UMD). This will be a match up of the number one and two teams in the WCHA. UMD comes into the weekend with a 11-1-2 record overall and 8-1-1 in conference, while Denver is 10-4-2 overall and 7-2-1 in conference. The Bulldogs and their fans will be energized, with emotions flowing, as the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center (DECC) will be closing after this weekend after 44 years. The Duluth Tribune News has a nice write up on the DECC arena.
This is the second time this season the Pioneers will be facing a #1 ranked team. The first time didn't end so well for the Pios as they lost both games to Boston College back in October. Coach Gwozdecky spoke about the similiarities between the teams in his press conference "Duluth reminds me a lot of Boston College, especially the top line," Gwozdecky said of the Bulldogs' top trio of Mike Connolly and Jack Connolly and Justin Fontaine. "They remind me a lot of Atkinson, Gibbons and Whitney. Fast, quick, creative, not dominant in size, but in skill level and very difficult to defend." Theresa Spisak, a WCHA columnnist, has an extensive analysis of the WCHA matchup of the week.
Denver's youngsters are playing well this season and continue to pick up national attention. Drew Shore was named Inside College Hockey's player of the week.Coach Gwozdecky also praised Drew in his weekly press conference saying, "He has become a really strong multidimensional player". More proof the Pios have young talent is Drew Shore (So) along with his brother Nick Shore (Fr), Beau Bennett (Fr)and Jason Zucker (Fr) are expected to make the US National junior team 28-man preliminary roster. Mike Chambers at the Denver Post has more.
We are better than we were in Mid-October.... and we are looking forward to the challenge.
This quote by Coach Gwozdecky sums up where the team is now. The question is, has this very young Denver squad come far enough in this last month and a half to compete with the number one ranked team in the nation?
Denver Cup Day One
Shore's hat trick paces a lackluster performance by the Pios.
Drew Shore scored his first career hat trick and the #12 Pios beat the Lake Superior State Lakers 6-3 to extend their winning streak to five games. However the Pioneers continued a disturbing trend of playing to the level of their opponent. Much like the previous two weekends the Pios came out flat against a team it should beat. Sloppy defensive play coupled with few scoring chances has been the Pioneers' MO early in games. The Pioneers were lucky to leave the first period with a 1-0 lead as the Lakers outplayed them and the tying goal was waved off as the horn sounded a split second before it rattled the cage.
The good news is that all four lines are starting to score and the Pios are finishing games like a top 10 team. Senior captain Kyle Ostrow put the Pios on top in the 1st with great stickwork down low to beat the goalie and two other Lakers, Dustin Jackson scored his first goal of the season and Beau Bennett is starting to show flashes of talent with a great wrist shot in the second. The Shore, Zucker, Salazer line continues to lead the way for the Pios and opponents will need to focus on shutting down this trio to stop the Pioneers.
Denver Cup Day Two
Pioneers win the Denver Cup with impressive performance 3-1 victory.
Though the Pioneers got off to an early 1-0 lead on a Dustin Jackson goal, they looked like the same slow-starting team from the past few weeks - the Pioneers were outshot 16-6 in the first period. However, the Pios jumped on the Falcons posting a 33-9 shots advantage the last two periods and could have easily won the game by five or six goals. Falcon freshman goalie Jason Torf kept his team in contention with a spectacular performance. On one series, tournament MVP Drew Shore had an open net from 15 feet out, but Torf made a diving mid-air stick save to prevent the goal. Fellow freshman Beau Bennett (forward) and David Makowski (defense) are starting to find their way.
Bennett scored his second goal in as many nights and now has 5 pts (2 goals, 3 assists) in his last three games, while Makowski added a helper and now has 9 pts (3 goals, 6 assists) in his last six games. However the story of the weekend was sophomore Drew Shore. He had a hand in 6 of the 9 goals on the weekend (4 goals, 2 assists) to garner MVP honors and now stands 3rd in the country in scoring with 12 goals, 10 assists in 16 games. Makowski, Jackson, Shore, and goalie Sam Brittain were named to the All Tournament team.
Next weekend brings a huge road test to the Pioneers as they travel to Duluth to play the #1 ranked Bulldogs.
The Denver Cup Classic, which is in its 19th year, continues its tradition as one of the nation’s finest college hockey showcases. The Pioneers host the two-day showcase, not to be confused with tournament, this weekend at Magness Arena. The main difference between the showcase and tournament is the schedule is already set, versus the winning teams matching up the second night. While this year the showcase is Thanksgiving weekend it is normally reserved for the last weekend of the year, somewhere between Christmas and New Year’s Day. This season’s showcase features Air Force (Atlantic Hockey), Clarkson (ECAC), Lake Superior State (CCHA) and host Denver (WCHA).
2010-11 DENVER CUP CLASSIC SCHEDULE
Friday, Nov. 26
Air Force vs. Clarkson - 4:37 p.m.
Denver vs. Lake Superior State - 7:37 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 27
Clarkson vs. Lake Superior State - 4:07 p.m.
Denver vs. Air Force - 7:07 p.m.
For notes on all squads see the following links
Once again a couple Pioneers received WCHA honors for their play last weekend. Sam Brittain received his second defensive player of the week while David Makowski received the rookie of the week for the second consecutive week. Forward Jason Zucker was also nominated for offensive player and rookie of the week.
The injury report is finally dwindling as only John Lee (broken hand) joins Jesse Martin (out for the season) on the list.
The Pioneers have faired well in the previous eighteen years of the cup with a 28-6-2 record and fourteen crowns, against some of the best college hockey has to offer. This year the showcase doesn’t contain any ranked opponents for Denver and the hope is with focus they will come away with number fifteen.
The 13th/14th (depending on the poll) ranked Denver Pioneers (6-4-2) and the Bemidji State Beavers (2-5-1) face off at Magness Arena this weekend. The Pioneers have only played the Beavers five times winning all five games. With four of those wins coming since Bemidji became a Division I hockey program back in the 1999-2000 season. The most recent match-ups between the two clubs have been close, including the 2005 NCAA Division I Hockey Tournament when the Pioneers defeated the Beavers 4-3 in overtime. Denver would go on to claim its seventh national title that season. This is Bemidji’s first season in the WCHA.
Last weekend, Bemidji State split with University of Alaska Anchorage at the Bemidji Regional Event Center. Losing 5-4 on Friday night and winning 4-0 Saturday. Denver took four points from Minnesota State last weekend. During the weekend Anthony Maiani joined the 100 point club for Denver with a goal and two assists on Saturday night, becoming its 92nd member. Senior walk-on goalie Josh Rosenholtz also received some ice time. Josh has other skills to go along with hockey.
Bemidiji is led by senior forward Matt Read, who is tied for the team’s lead in scoring with 11 points (7g, 4a). Sophomore Jordan George also has 11 points (4g, 7a) and junior defenseman Brad Hunt leads the team with eight assists. The goaltending is shared by Dan Bakala (1-4-0, 3.57 GAA, .871 Save %) and Mathieu Dugas (1-1-1, 1.95 GAA, .922 Sv%). Bemidji’s Head coach is Tom Serratore who has posted 165-133-34 record in his ten seasons with the Beavers. Bemidji State’s is converting their power play at a 20.6% rate while their penalty kill is only 74.5%. DU has slowly improved on its power play going 6-for-20 on the power play during the past four games and is currently 8-for-55. Their defensive focus has been much better killing penalties at a 84.5% rate. Drew Shore and David Makowski lead the Pios with two power play goals each.
On the injury side of things, Dustin Jackson (mono) is questionable and John Lee (hand) is doubtful. Mike Chambers has more on his blog.
Freshman David Makowski joined in on the accolades when he took home the WCHA Red Baron Rookie of the Week honor. Sam Brittan and Luke Salazar were also nominated.
College Hockey News has a nice write-up on junior forward Luke Salazar.
The Pios need another sweep this weekend to keep the momentum going in their quest for a postseason birth. Both Theresa Spisak and Tyler Buckentine who write a WCHA blog over at USCHO.com have predicted a Pioneer sweep.
The 15th ranked Denver Pioneers (4-4-2) and the Minnesota State Mavericks (2-4-4) will matchup for only the 38th time as MSM only started playing division one hockey during the 1996-1997 season and joined the WCHA in 1999-2000. Denver’s record against MSM is 19-13-5 and 10-4-3 in Denver, including an eleven game unbeaten streak at Magness Arena. The last time these two teams met, Denver clinched the MacNaughton Cup in a thrilling 4-3 overtime win. The MacNaughton Cup is awarded yearly to the regular season conference champion of the WCHA.
Last weekend, Minnesota State was swept by new WCHA member, University of Nebraska Omaha Mavericks. MNS gave up five goals per game while only scoring three goals total. Meanwhile, Denver had an up and down weekend splitting against CC.
Jesse Martin had surgery this week. A wrap up of the press conference can be seen here at the DU website. The doctor's called the surgery very successful. Also of note was Jesse walked for the first time since the injury. Great to hear, Jesse!
Also on the injury list are Nick Shore (wrist/hand fracture), Dustin Jackson (mono) who have been upgraded to questionable for this weekend while Paul Phillips (nasal surgery) is probable. Mike Chambers of the Denver Post has more insight at from George Gwozdecky.
Freshman Jason Zucker was once again nominated for the WCHA Rookie of the Week for his performance last weekend against CC. Zucker scored two goals and had one assist against CC and is tied for fifth in WCHA rookie scoring. We could also see history being made this weekend as Anthony Maiani only needs three points to join the 100 point club for the Pioneers. He would become the 92nd member of the exclusive club.
After a brutal schedule to start the season, this should be a very productive weekend for the Pios. They need to take advantage the softest portion of their schedule.
Friday night the No. 13 Pioneers played like a top 10 team and cruised to a 4-1 victory over the rival CC Tigers. The storyline for the Pios continues to be solid goaltending by Sam "Great" Brittain, and scoring from Shore/Zucker/"put your name here" line, and a timely goal from an upperclassmen. In this case it was defenseman John Lee getting his third career goal and Luke Salazar scoring his fourth of season. Shore has a goal and two assists, while Zucker had a goal and an assist. Zucker also drew a penalty shot in the third period, but the Pios declined the penalty shot and opted to take the two-minute power play to take time off the clock (something I bet Dan Hawkins is thinking about today).
Brittain lost his chance at a second straight shutout when the Tigers scored a power-play goal late in the 3rd period. The good news from the game, the Pioneers went 2-4 on the man-advantage where they have been struggling all season.
Saturday night brought the chance of securing the Gold Pan Trophy, but after an early score from Drew Shore, the Pios collapsed. They gave up six power play goals on the way to the worst loss in 13 years, a 9-2 drubbing by the Tigers. Again the bright spot of the night for the Pios was the Shore/Zucker/Salazer line as Zucker finished off the night with a power play goal with 12 seconds to play.
A 4-4-2 start against Vermont, BC, North Dakota, Wisconsin, and CC bodes well for the young Pioneers. With the tough 10 game opening stretch under their belt, the Pioneers will now play their next six games at home against Minnesota State - Mankato, Bemidji State, Lake Superior State and Air Force. This would be a great time for the Pioneers to get on a hot streak!
Last, senior Jesse Martin's surgery goes as planned. We continue to wish him, his family and the Pioneers the best!
The No. 13 ranked Denver Pioneers (3-3-2) and the Colorado College Tigers (3-4-1) will face off again with their traditional home and home series. The series starts Friday night at Magness Arena, with the second game coming Saturday night at the World Arena in Colorado Springs. In a series that dates back to 1949 with 275 games played, Denver owns a 154-107-14 advantage overall and an 89-47-8 record in Denver. They will be playing for state and conference bragging rights along with the prized Gold Pan Trophy. Awarding the Gold Pan Trophy, an actual old mining pan, started in 1993-94 and goes to the regular season series winner. The Pioneers finally regained possession of the Gold Pan Trophy last season, after three years in Colorado Springs.
"At a game at the Broadmoor Arena, one of our fans released a black swan on the ice. I'm not sure what it was supposed to signify exactly, but it was pretty funny. You know how college kids are. Always trying to do some crazy stunt." Owens added, "At another game, someone let about 100 live mice loose on the ice. It may have been closer to fifty, but it seemed like 100. The game was held up for about 20 minutes while everyone scurried around trying to catch them."
Colorado College gave up fourteen goals last weekend, including nine in one game to Minnesota. Before that the Tigers had been a very defensive minded team. "We need to get back to that formula," Tigers Head Coach Scott Owens said. The offense for Colorado College has been a brother act as Jaden and Rylan Schwartz have nine goals and seventeen points between them.
Meanwhile, Denver experienced a very emotional weekend in Grand Forks, ND. Splitting the series against the Fighting Sioux but losing Jesse Martin for the season with three fractures in his neck. Terry Martin, Jesse’s father spoke today, "The neurosurgeons from a number of sources are reviewing the material independently and are going to concur on a strategy (this) morning, and we should be confirmed for surgery thereafter."
WCHBlog put together a good editorial on the Brad Malone's hit of Jesse Martin.
It appears Malone will be suspended one game for his actions.
In what has become a reoccurring theme Sam Brittain was awarded for his performance last weekend as he received a WCHA honor, this time for defensive player of the week. Forwards, Drew Shore and Jason Zucker were also nominated for offensive player and rookie of the week, respectively.
As mentioned above Jesse Martin will be out for the season. Also on the injured list are Nick Shore (wrist/hand fracture), Dustin Jackson (mono), Paul Phillips (nasal surgery) and Adam Murray (groin).
With lots of questions heading into the weekend perhaps the biggest is, will the Pioneers have a let down after last weekend's emotional rollercoaster. Denver head coach George Gwozdecky speaks in his weekly press conference about Jesse and the team's frame of mind. The fact they are involved one of college hockey's most storied rivalries will help but it will be quite a challenge.
The No. 12 Denver Pioneers split the weekend series with the No. 8 North Dakota Fighting Sioux behind Sam Brittain’s first career shutout on Saturday night, but today, the Pioneers are thinking about Senior Jesse Martin, who suffered a season-ending injury to his neck. Jesse is currently in stable condition. "Our thoughts and prayers are with Jesse and the entire Martin family during this most-difficult time," DU head coach George Gwozdecky said. "Jesse is one of our team leaders and most-respected players in the locker room. Our players are determined to rally around him and assist in any way possible during the healing process."
Back on the ice the Pioneers continued to be paced by Jason Zucker, Drew Shore, Kyle Ostrow, Anthony Maiani, and Sam Brittain. In Friday’s 4-3 loss, Jason Zucker scored a pair of goals to lead the Pioneers scoring, but it was the Pioneers inability to hold on to one goal leads that led to the loss.
Saturday night, the Pioneers showed that they can play with the elite teams in the country. Paced by goals from Shore, Zucker, Ostrow, and the above mentioned first career shutout by Sam Brittain, the Pioneers defeated the Sioux. One negative continues to be the Pioneers power play. They were 0-4 over the weekend and are now just 2-35 (5.7%) on the season – ranking at the bottom nationally. Fortunately the Pioneers are killing penalties at an 89.2% (33-37) clip and have scored two short-handed goals on the season.
Next weekend brings a home and home series with Colorado College Tigers and the Gold Pan will again be up for grabs. DU currently holds the Gold Pan trophy based on their 2-1-1 record versus the Tigers in 2009-10.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Jesse, his family and the Pioneers.
The No. 12 Denver Pioneers (2-2-2) will be heading to Grand Forks, N.D., to take on the No. 8 North Dakota Fighting Sioux (3-2-1) this weekend.
It will be North Dakota’s first home games of the season, which should just add to the excitement and intensify the rivalry that has grown into one of the most heated in college hockey. The bad blood began with a Geoff Paukovich hit on Robbie Bina in March of 2005. Paukovich, who is five inches taller and outweighs Bina by 35 pounds, hit Bina in the back and sent him head first into the boards. Paukovich was given a minor penalty for boarding and was eventually suspended for a game. Bina was diagnosed with shattered vertebrae and missed the rest of the 2005 season. The intensity has even boiled over to the bench as Denver coach George Gwozdecky has been ejected twice against the Sioux, once in 2006 and the other in 2009. "It's going to be crazy. Their fans are crazy. It's a good rivalry. They don't like us. We don't like them" said Jesse Martin, senior forward for Denver. To top it all off and just because there isn’t enough going on tonight is Ed Belfour night.
Last weekend North Dakota was embarrassed by Maine losing by a combined five to eleven score, dropping them from No. 2 to No. 8 in the rankings "They’re certainly going to be upset by how they played and it’s certainly going to be an emotional task for us to deal with their emotion and determination and their will to win starting Friday night, but certainly I feel good about what we’ve been doing so far," said Gwozdecky in his weekly press conference.
Meanwhile, Denver got back on track by taking three points against Wisconsin last weekend. "I think our experience over the past three weekends certainly has been challenging for us," Gwozdecky said at his weekly press conference. "I certainly think that those six games we have played certainly prepare us for our second WCHA opponent of the year." He would remark later, "The freshmen have got six games under their belt right now and some of them are starting to feel real comfortable. With every game they've played, these young guys have understood more and more what they have to do every time they step on the ice."
The efforts of defenseman John Lee and goalie Sam Brittain were noticed last weekend as they both received WCHA honors. Brittain, boasts a .940 save percentage and 1.70 goals against average so far this season. Drew Shore forward was also nominated.
Once again true freshman Sam Brittain will start both games again as sophomore Adam Murray is still out due to a groin injury. The injured list also includes Nick Shore (wrist/hand fracture), Dustin Jackson (mono), who are out this weekend while Paul Phillips had nasal surgery.
The two squads appear to have different philosophies so far this season as Denver’s game has been more defensive focused scoring 2.33 per game while giving up 2.83. North Dakota’s play has been more loose allowing 3.50 per game will scoring 3.83. With the differing styles, special teams could have a big say in the outcome of this weekend’s series. Denver’s penalty kill is ranked sixth in the nation killing off 27 of 30 power plays. This unit will be tested as North Dakota has the tenth ranked power play, converting at a 25.8 percent. The biggest area of improvement for Denver needs to come from their power play as they have been dreadful so far this season. Denver has only converted two of 32 chances. North Dakota has the fourth-most penalty minutes in college hockey at 120, Denver will have their chances and will need to take advantage.
I am amazed at how quickly the college hockey seasons goes from exhibition games to very important conference matchups. This will be a crucial weekend series for the Pioneers and their conference and playoff aspirations.
The Denver Pioneers begin their quest to return to the Frozen Four tomorrow night as they take on the Vermont Catamounts in the first of a two game series against the University of Vermont at Denver's Magness Arena.
DU finished up a disappointing 2009-10 campaign by falling to the Rochester Institute of Technology in the first round of the NCAA East Regional, their third first-round exit in as many seasons.
This season, the Pioneers look to start off the season with a bang against a rough opening schedule.
Friday's game at Vermont not only opens the season, it marks the start of a brutal 10-game stretch.
DU hosts defending national champion Boston College on Oct. 15-16 and follows with a series Oct. 22-23 at home against Western Collegiate Hockey Association rival Wisconsin. The Pioneers then play at North Dakota, which was the unanimous choice last week to win the WCHA.
The stretch wraps up with a home-and-home set with rival Colorado College on Nov. 5-6.
Vermont is no slouch, either. The Catamounts were 5-0-0 against nonconference opponents at home last season, and the Pioneers split an early-season series with Vermont at Magness Arena last season.
Here's a look at DU's 2010-11 schedule and the televised games are listed below:
-FSN Rocky Mountain-
Fri., Oct. 15 Boston College, 7:30 p.m.
Fri., Oct. 22 Wisconsin, 7:30 p.m.
Fri., Nov. 5 Colorado College, 7:30 p.m.
Fri., Nov. 19 Bemidji State, 7:30 p.m.
Fri., Nov. 26 Lake Superior State, 7:30 p.m.
Fri., Dec. 31 Northern Michigan, 6:00 p.m.
Fri., Jan. 21 Alaska Anchorage, 7:30 p.m.
Sat., Jan. 22 Alaska Anchorage, 7:00 p.m.
Sat., Feb. 5 Colorado College, 7:00 p.m.
Fri., Feb. 18 Michigan Tech, 7:30 p.m.
Sat., Feb. 19 Michigan Tech, 7:00 p.m.
Fri., Mar. 4 St. Cloud State, 7:30 p.m.
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