DU Hockey Mailbag: Undefeated in the New Year, You Say?

Photo Credit: Andy Cross, The Denver Post

Welcome to the 2nd edition of the DU hockey mailbag! This is the forum in which I take your questions about DU hockey that may not have been answered earlier in the week and, well, answer them.

Before I get going, let me just give you a quick update on what happened during the week.

Denver swept Minnesota-Duluth with 3-2 and 2-1 victories over the weekend. The referees were bad but DU strengthened their position at 3rd place in the NCHC standings. The Pioneers are also holding strong in the all-important PairWise Rankings at #13. They were #14 heading into the weekend.

Now, let’s get to some questions.

The Pios are a very good 5-0-3 since the clock struck midnight on New Years Eve. Do you think this is a sign of things to come for DU or is it just a flash in the pan?
Jay in Denver

Jay, that’s a very good question and, assuming you’re a DU fan, you’re going to be pleased with my answer. I don’t think this is just a flash in the pan. Denver has played really good hockey all month. The ties against Notre Dame were probably the best I’ve seen DU play all year. The problem that weekend was that the Irish had a brick wall in front of their net in Cal Petersen. If there was any other goalie wearing a gold helmet that night, DU wins both games by at least 4 goals and is sitting at 7-0-1 in 2016.

The biggest thing that the Pioneers have going for them right now is the fact that the top line has finally gotten going and the lower lines haven’t stopped producing. Matt Marcinew, 4th line center, has quietly put himself at #2 on the team in goals scored with 8 (Danton Heinen has 9).

It appears that DU is peaking at the right time to make a run through the rest of the regular season and into the NCHC tournament. Heinen has started to find the back of the net again (he had 3 goals in the two games against UMD and nearly added another on multiple occasions) and he’s really starting to click again with Trevor Moore.

It’s extremely unlikely that DU is going to go undefeated for the rest of the year (North Dakota and Nebraska-Omaha are still coming to Denver), but their incredible January has put them back into contention on both the NCHC and national stages.

I was at both games this weekend against UMD. Was it just me or did the refs just suck for all 120 minutes of hockey? There was a lot of bad stuff happening after whistles that shouldn’t have been allowed.
Dan in Englewood

Dan, it’s not just you. The refs were awful. However, I didn’t have much of an issue with what they let happen after the whistles (contrary to what some might have you believe). The issues I had were with penalties that weren’t called during play. I didn’t do a missed penalty counter for the UMD series, but if I had to guess, Derek Shepherd and Dan Dreger likely missed 10-15 penalties throughout the weekend. Not all of them should have been called, but they should have called more than they did.

To their credit, they were at least consistently bad. They missed a lot of calls both ways, but the problem was their missed calls led to all of the extracurricular activities after whistles. Friday night’s game wasn’t too badly officiated, but about 5 minutes into the 2nd period on Saturday, the refs lost control of the game. Punches were thrown (by both teams) after nearly every whistle, yet nothing was called. It escalated too far and really caused the fights with 7.8 seconds left in the 3rd period.

Bad officiating is a problem that isn’t contained to just the collegiate level. It’s a problem at every single level from pee wee hockey all the way up to the NHL. There is a shortage of high-quality officials and I’m not quite sure what can be done about it. For now, we have to live with what we have and hope that one day it gets better.

BC’s Jerry York just earned the 1,000th win of his career with Boston College. Think DU or anyone else could ever have a coach repeat that feat?
Anonymous, Boulder

To be completely honest, no. That feat is incredibly difficult to achieve. York has been coaching for over 40 years (Clarkson, Bowling Green, and Boston College) and he was given extraordinary freedom to really do what he wanted at each school. That kind of freedom just doesn’t exist in collegiate athletics anymore.

The NCAA has become so incredibly competitive in every sport that any kind of longevity in any sport is incredible. Heck, just look at George Gwozdecky. He is one of the greatest college hockey coaches of all time and he got the Pios into the NCAA tournament year after year. He single-handedly put DU back on the map nationwide, yet after a number of first round exits, he was ousted.

I don’t see a college hockey coach staying in the business as long as York has anymore. There are coaches who might eventually be as talented as he is, but either they just won’t stay long enough or they’ll get lured away by the NHL. In short, what York accomplished is as unbreakable as Cal Ripken Jr.’s Iron Man streak or Joe DiMaggio’s hit streak. If you were lucky enough to witness any of those victories in person, hold onto that memory. We’re never going to see a coach like Jerry York again.

That’ll do it for this week’s mailbag. As always, you can email us at letsgodu@gmail.com with your questions or you can reply to the mailbag tweets on Twitter with questions.

We’ll be back next Thursday for another edition of the DU Hockey mailbag!

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