Pioneers extend Tenzer Streak, grab first place from Duluth with sweep of Tigers

Photo courtesy DU Athletics

For the 12th straight time, the #2 University of Denver Pioneers beat the Colorado College Tigers and in the process, they extended the Tenzer Streak to 16 and jumped into first place in the NCHC, one point ahead of UMD. The only thing that didn’t happen for Denver is earning the #1 ranking in the Pairwise. They remain at #2.

“I feel good about being [first] in the NCHC,” DU head coach Jim Montgomery said. “We’ve never been in this situation and with six games left, it’s us and Duluth going head-to-head here. It’s exciting because every time you have an opportunity to win a championship, it helps you for the ultimate championship at the end.”

What is the Tenzer Streak? Glad you asked. Tonight’s victory over Colorado College clinches the Pioneers their 16th straight season with 20 or more victories, the longest active streak in college hockey. The streak dates back to assistant coach David Tenzer’s first season with the Pioneers in 2001.

20 wins is seen as a key season benchmark in college hockey, so to maintain a high level of excellence over the course of 16 seasons and two separate head coaches is a testament to the DU hockey program as a whole…and Tenzer.

Tonight’s NCHC Tournament (first round) home-ice clinching win for Denver was even less exciting than game one of the weekend home-and-home series. There was no energy in the World Arena and Denver controlled most of the play again. This time, though, Denver put a 5-spot up on CC’s freshman goalie Alex Leclerc.

From the moment the puck dropped, Denver was the better team in the building, as has been the case every time DU and CC have taken the ice in the past three years. This time, instead of top-heavy scoring, the Pioneers’ incredible depth was the reason for the dominance. Denver had five different goal-scorers on the night and all four lines notched a goal.

“You get [Troy] Terry back and all of a sudden, with everyone else that gained important minutes through the Gambrell injury, through Borgström’s sickness, and Terry’s injuries, everyone’s gained a little more experience,” Montgomery said. “I think you see that now where we’re getting a guy like Finlay, he wasn’t getting minutes before the Terry injury, now he’s getting them and it’s carrying over. Our 4th line scored the biggest goal in my opinion.”

On top of the five-goal outburst, DU’s defense remained stout. It took Colorado College until the third period tonight to get 10 or more shots on goal this weekend. It seemed like every time CC was on the rush or was beginning to set up a play in the offensive zone, Denver’s defense was there to spoil any chance they had at scoring. The two goals they did score this weekend came a bit of a fluke of a rush last night and on a 2nd-period power play tonight.

“It’s been the most consistent part of our game,” Montgomery said of his defense’s effort. “Our constant thing is hey, we’re number two in the nation in team defense. We have a great goalie, we have six great defensemen, and we have forwards who are committed to playing team-first defense.”

There’s no question that Denver has the best defense in the country. While Bemidji State (who gave up 5 to Alabama-Huntsville this evening) has a better defense statistically, there is no question that Denver’s is better when taking into account strength of schedule. This is probably the best defense DU has ever had and if they can keep this up, it’s going to be a season to remember in Denver.

4 thoughts on “Pioneers extend Tenzer Streak, grab first place from Duluth with sweep of Tigers”

  1. Twelve straight wins against CC? Hasn’t happened in the 35+ years I have followed the Pios. Well done. Saw the game live in the Springs, and the place was as moribund as I’ve ever seen it.

    While tremendously satisfying as a Pio fan to see DU vault into first place and keep the 20 win season streak alive, the fact is that CC as a program is struggling right now, after some recruiting misfires. I think Havilland is probably a good hockey coach, but the Tigers have a good goaltender and skate very hard, but they just lack the kind of skilled players that most of the other NCHC programs have. Enjoy the dominance Pio fans, because someday, it won’t be this easy….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I know it’s heresy to say this but I wish CC was better. Kicking their asses on a regular basis like this does not make a fun rivalry. I want them to be highly ranked so A) students and casual fans care more and B) when we do kick their ass it means more.

    Monty has done a hell of a job thus far, I might add

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I couldn’t agree more.

      I love to hate CC when they play DU….but, I have to say, they are my 2nd favorite NCHC team and I (quietly…) root for them whenever they’re NOT playing DU. Over the last few years, I’ve just felt embarrassed for them.

      Analyzing their system play and perceived effort, I feel confident in saying that Haviland is a technically sound coach; and, from all accounts, he’s a great guy, too. Swami’s right: Despite good tactics and high effort, there’s a skill gap that’s difficult to overcome in the toughest league in college hockey. It’s just unfortunate that various forces combine to make recruiting those transformative, high skill players to CC a difficult task.

      Anyway. I hope CC can turn it around. College hockey in Colorado is more fun when BOTH DU and CC are good.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Strong programs make for better rivalries on both sides. CC’s problem right now isn’t really coaching – its mostly a talent/recruiting gap issue. They missed on some consecutive classes and they are paying the price as they just aren’t getting the game-breaker types of players we are used to seeing there over the years. The CC fans I know feel awful about the the program they love falling into its current state.

    The NCHC has so little margin for error that rebuilding in this conference is really difficult because the other great programs are also working hard to improve every day, too, and CC also faces the historic obstacles in terms of very high academic standards, tiny school size with limited resources, selection of academic programs (liberal arts school), the block plan (not for everyone), off campus arena (isolation) and other things that can make it more difficult. CC will get a new practice facility on campus which will help, but until the player quality improves, it will take some time.

    Like

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