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.