Pioneer Family Loses DU Hall of Fame Hockey Alumnus George Konik at age 79

The Denver Pioneers lost one of its hockey greats this weekend, as former DU all-American and DU Hall of Famer George Konik passed away in his sleep at his home in Eagan, Minn. on Oct. 21.  He had suffered from Parkinson’s Disease and dementia for the last 17 years, and was 79 years old.

A native of Flin Flon, Manitoba, George helped the Flin Flon Bombers junior hockey team with 76 points in 53 games to win the 1957 Memorial Cup Championship.  He reportedly turned down a two-year NHL contract with the New York Rangers in order to accept a scholarship to the University of Denver in the fall of 1957, but he didn’t see any action his freshman year at DU, since freshmen were not eligible to play varsity hockey at that time. He did learn a great deal watching his DU teammates win the 1958 NCAA championship over North Dakota, the school’s first of seven NCAA Crowns.

The next season, Konik, a 5-11, 190 lb. versatile player who could play forward and defense  would earn a regular spot on the DU team.  He helped lead the Pioneers to two more NCAA titles in 1960 and 1961, DU teams that were generally regarded as some of the finest college hockey teams of all-time. Konik was named to the WCHA second all-star team in 1960 and the first team all- WCHA in 1961, the NCAA championship all-tournament team in 1960 and the NCAA West All-American team in 1960.

Konik racked up 116 points (46G-70A) in 89 career games as a Pioneer, ranking sixth in program history in points by a defenseman. He was also named to the WCHA 50th Anniversary Team in 2001 and was inducted into the DU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1997.

After DU, He signed with the New York Rangers but toiled in the minors (AHL, WHL and CPHL) from 1961-67.  He finally made his NHL debut in 1967-68 as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ inaugural expansion team, where he played 52 NHL games that season, scoring seven goals and adding eight assists for 15 points before returning to the minors for the rest of his hockey career.

Konik eventually became a naturalized American citizen and joined the United States national team for the 1970 and 1971 IIHF World Championships; and he was named the IIHF’s “B” pool tournament’s best defenseman in 1970 before retiring from hockey. Konik came out of retirement in 1972-73 to play a final season of major league pro hockey for the WHA’s Minnesota Fighting Saints.

After retiring from pro hockey for the second time, he worked as an electrical engineer at Honeywell Corporation before  founding George Konik Associates, a contract engineering firm in Minnesota. In 2000, George sold the company to his son, Brad, who had also played college (Harvard, where he was the Crimson’s 100th captain) and minor league hockey. Brad is still president of GKA today.

George loved coaching hockey, golf and enjoying life with his family and friends. He leaves behind his wife of 56 years, Ila Konik; his children, Terri Churchill (Joe), Brenda Konik, Jodi Schoenecker (Brad), Brad Konik (Erin); his grandchildren, Sydney, Anna, Rachel, Trevor, Lauren, Kaia, Benjamin, Andrea and Hayden; niece, Donna (Garry), nephew, Ron (Deb); other relatives and many close friends. A visitation and Celebration of Life Service will be held Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016 at Knights of Columbus, 1114 American Blvd W. in Bloomington, Minnesota. Visitation starting at 10 AM with Service at 12 Noon and reception afterwards.

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to the University of Denver Hockey Program.

WATCH: Bill Tierney talks Denver’s 15-13 exhibition loss to Canada

The University of Denver Men’s Lacrosse team played the Canadian National Lacrosse Team today at Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium. The Canadians emerged victorious, 15-13 thanks in large part to a 9-0 run that spanned the second and third quarters. Continue reading WATCH: Bill Tierney talks Denver’s 15-13 exhibition loss to Canada

Early Look: Michigan State Spartans

Photo courtesy DU Athletics

The 6th-ranked University of Denver Pioneers will travel to East Lansing, Michigan to take on the Michigan State Spartans this weekend. After what has transpired over the last two weeks, going 0-2 and then sweeping one of the country’s most talented teams in Boston University, this will be another key weekend for the Pioneers on their way to forging their 2016-17 identity. Continue reading Early Look: Michigan State Spartans

Time to Renew Vows with the Summit League

We all know by now that the Big 12 is not expanding. BYU is not going anywhere. It was unlikely anyway that the Cougars would have moved all their sports programs from the West Coast Conference to the Big 12 anyway for a number of reasons.

The dominoes did not fall. The Big 12 is standing pat and so is DU’s primary athletic conference. Continue reading Time to Renew Vows with the Summit League

Shinyashiki’s OT Goal Extends Denver’s Unbeaten Streak to 32

Striking in extra time, sophomore forward Andre Shinyashiki secured the 2-1 victory for the University of Denver men’s soccer team over New Mexico. The win extended the Pioneers’ regular season unbeaten streak to 32 consecutive games and a current record of 13-0-2.

Recently No. 3-ranked by College Soccer News, Denver continued to assert its success on the national platform. With eight seconds remaining in the second overtime, redshirt-senior midfielder Karsten Hanlin sent a corner kick into the box. The cross was headed by a New Mexico defender and redirected by Shinyashiki to net the game-winner.

Denver was the first to get on the scoreboard following a scoreless first half. Hanlin struck a one-timer past New Mexico’s goalie off of a cross sent by sophomore Kenny Akamatsu from the right flank. Hanlin’s delayed run behind Shinyashiki timed the cross precisely to create the conversion during the 52nd minute.

With one minute remaining in regulation, New Mexico’s Nicholas Rochowski equalized the score. A shot taken by New Mexico outside of the penalty area created chaos in front of net leaving a loose ball open for Rochowski to finish, sending the game to extra time.

Denver returns to Summit League play on Saturday, Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. The Pioneers host Oral Roberts.

College Athletic Free Agency a Potential Plus for DU

An undergraduate football player (former Northern Illinois punter Peter Deppe) has filed a lawsuit challenging the NCAA rule that requires an undergraduate transfer to fulfill a one-year residence requirement at the institution he transfers to before he is eligible to compete. The case is expected to be heard early in 2017. Of course, the NCAA is prepared to vigorously defend the present NCAA status quo which tips the balance in the favor of the institutions and not the best interest of the athletes. Continue reading College Athletic Free Agency a Potential Plus for DU

North Dakota Firing Squad Shoots Blanks

Photo: New UND President, Mark Kennedy

In a crazy process initiated by University of North Dakota President Mark Kennedy, an 18-member committee was formed largely of non-athletic department staff to examine UND’s conference affiliation and the number of athletic teams it sponsors. The purpose of the group was to identify athletic department savings to bridge a $1.4 million dollar shortfall. The common thought was that UND would eliminate 2-4 athletic programs. The committee convened a public hearing, called “pointless” and “demeaning” by the Grand Forks Herald, of coaches and teams who were asked to plead for their survival. The committee revealed their recommendation Tuesday. Continue reading North Dakota Firing Squad Shoots Blanks

DU Homecoming Weekend Sets the Standard

The unseasonably warm weather didn’t hurt. The fact that DU athletes owned the weekend didn’t hurt either. But DU’s Homecoming Weekend was a masterful event with food, events, and sports for DU family, friends, and alumni. It showed what DU can be when all the DU pieces are put together, showcased and celebrated. Continue reading DU Homecoming Weekend Sets the Standard

WATCH: Jim Montgomery talks sweep of Terriers

After an incredible series between two top-tier hockey programs, DU head coach Jim Montgomery talked about what he liked to see out of the Pioneers. He also talked at length about freshman Henrik Borgström’s 2G, 1A performance which clinched the sweep for the Pios.

Watch: Continue reading WATCH: Jim Montgomery talks sweep of Terriers

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