DU’s Depth Displayed as Pioneers Dominate Exhibition Game

The reigning 2017 national champions emphasized their near unanimous preseason No. 1 ranking on Sunday night in Magness Arena. The DU Pioneers exemplified their exquisite depth over the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns as each line skated a returner from Chicago’s national championship team. 

The exhibition game was an ideal platform for Denver to test its depth in waves, experiment variations of lineups and affirm the realization that the conquest for repeating the title is underway.

Denver’s first period goals were scored from special teams by sophomores Tyson McLellan and Liam Finlay. Neither McLellan or Finlay were in Denver’s top-five of scoreboard last season, further attributing to the breadth within the Pioneer roster as this season’s team will continue to demonstrate its. 

“I think if there’s an area that we’ve looked to get better at it’s going to be in special teams,” Head coach Jim Montgomery said. “We like our power play. If you’re looking at numbers above 25%, we’d like our penalty kill to be at 85% or above. We think that with the speed of our forwards maybe we could score more shorthanded goals; I think that was an incredible play there [McLellan’s goal]. We also had two other two-on-ones with our other penalty kills so those are other areas that we are looking to get better at from last year.”

Ian Mitchell was assessed with cross-checking leaving the Pioneers shorthanded in the opening five minutes. McLellan rushed the attacking zone after collecting a pass from linemate Logan O’Connor and drew in Pronghorns’ defenseman before cutting inside the crease. McLellan chipped his shot past Lethbridge goalie Garret Hughson 4:30 into the period leveraging the Pioneers a 1-0 lead.

Just five minutes later, Lethbridge defenseman Blake Orban was assessed with interference. On the powerplay, DU circulated the puck out to the right circle where Finlay wired a wrister to double the Pioneers advantage.

Denver swapped out national championship and 2017 Mike Richter Award recipient Tanner Jaillet for freshman Dayton Rasmussen in the second period.

Last season’s scoreboard leader Troy Terry earned his first tally of the 2017-18 campaign on a tough-angle shot as Dylan Gambrell fed Terry just inside the left faceoff circle. Terry sniped his shot shortside to extend DU’s lead 3-0.  

The Pronghorns prevented the shutout in the final frame as Brandon Clowes beat Rasmussen. Rasmussen made a game-high 18 saves in his 30 minutes of action, after Lethbridge scored its sole goal sole goal, freshman Devin Cooley saw action in the pipes.

With only five NHL draftees on Denver’s roster, it’s impressive the Pioneers have attained such substantial success in comparison to teams stacked with seven or more prospects like Boston University, the University of Michigan or University of Minnesota.

DU experimented with assembling their prospects among the lineup with San Jose Sharks prospect center Gambrell skating top line alongside classmates Jarid Lukosevicius on the left wing and Anaheim Ducks prospect Terry. First round 2016 Florida Panthers draftee Henrik Borgstrom centered fellow Helsinki, Finland native Jaako Heikkinen on the second line, alongside Finlay. The final draft Pioneer draft picks spent the summer together at the Chicago Blackhawks development camp and were paired together on the blueline; junior Blake Hillman and freshman Ian Mitchell.

“We don’t concern ourselves with if our players our going to get drafted or not, we concern ourselves with if our players are going to be prominent college hockey players, and whether they fit our culture and they way we play,” Montgomery said. “A lot of people didn’t recruit Jake Durflinger and I know he’s going to be one hell of a college hockey player so that’s just one example. How [freshman defenseman] Griffin Mendel at 6-foot-4 moves around the ice, didn’t get drafted? I guarantee he’ll be drafted by the end of this season.”

DU was without captain and integral defenseman Tariq Hammond during the exhibition match. Hammond is still recovering from an injury sustained in the national title game against the University of Minnesota Duluth, but is expected to suit up for the Pioneers’ next series against the University of Notre Dame on Oct. 13 and 14 in South Bend.

27 thoughts on “DU’s Depth Displayed as Pioneers Dominate Exhibition Game”

  1. Don’t draw too much into this meaningless game. Typical exhibition against Canadian ham-and-eggers. DU rested its star players (Terry, Bosrgstron and Gambrell) for the second half of the game, playing its underclassmen for experience, as well as its second and third goalies for the majority of playing time.

    Expect a much different team next weekend….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Is DU’s new marketing strategy to rely on fan accounts for coverage of events? The student season ticket campout has been a tradition for over 15 years and the only real coverage was done by the whiteboard twitter account?? Are you kidding me??? Am I missing something? Where was the video of the band playing the fight song in the morning? The freshman singing? Monty addressing the students? Donuts being passed out? I heard the turnout was record setting but who knows due to the lack of coverage of the event by DU administration.

    Good thing DU backed up the Brinks truck to the Montgomery residence last Spring, because examples like this and the locker room debacle is probably pushing his other foot out the door to the NHL.

    How often do you get to start the season as national champions??? Let’s hope the banner raising isn’t an afterthought either.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree. Whoever is in charge of External Comms should be in charge of promoting, oh wait there is a tweet of him out there that he was at some Elk Festival on Saturday, instead of promoting the national champs and being part of a fan event. Typical DU. They wonder why they can’t get anybody to show up to their events.


  3. Great to see hockey last night. DU’s stars put on a good show while they played. Fun to watch. Overall, the game was fairly competitive, as DU was on the PK for stretches and Lethbridge put pucks on net.

    I like the fact that this freshman class has some size with Doremus, Barrow, Mendel, and Olischefski.

    Any updates on Hammond? I saw him walking around the concourse and stairs between periods last night and he was moving a bit gingerly. Based on the article in The Denver Post, perhaps a mid-November return for him?


  4. Obviously, we have some awesome people in our athletic department. However, the promotion of DU athletics and creation of a good fan experience has been awful–not just now, but for many years. When all is said and done, the fan experience of winning 4 national titles (3 hockey, 1 lax) in 15 years covers up for a lot of incompetency. But it’s pretty much like they have no clue how to promote DU athletics in a cohesive way, and even less clue how to either create/support a true collegiate experience. Perhaps too concerned about promoting inclusive excellence. Success covers up a lot of flaws. But there appears to be no creativity in the DU marketing and fan experience department. Wish they would hire someone who has a clue. I don’t know anything about MacNeill, but he has been at so many schools he probably has to remind himself from time to time that he is in Denver.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I think DU must be between SIDs – I think Rick Bowness is gone now and I am not sure if the new guy from the USHL has started yet. That might explain why campout coverage media was so poor this year.

    DU athletics hasn’t really had a senior marketing person in place since the mid 2000s. They have promotions people, communications people, sponsorships people and fundraisers, but no one with a serious marketing or branding background to tie it all together…


    1. that bonwess guy left like a month ago i remember from local media people crying on twitter so it’s weird they dont have new guy in there yet. also weird there isnt a fulltime marketing person. whoever does promotions is doing a bad job though, only time i see/hear any ads (which is rare) theyre awful and theres never any cool game promos you see at other schools or at eagles. they should definitely hire a marketing guy soon. lucky the team is good or stands would be totally empty!


    2. Aside from an elk festival or SID transition, a 16 year old from South High School across the Interstate could’ve taken a couple videos with their phone Saturday morning and posted it to the social media accounts of DU Hockey. Not difficult to coordinate somebody in the administration to do that!

      Does one of the groups DU outsources work to (tickets/sponsorship) handle the marketing? Maybe that’s the problem?


      1. they did an entire gabbin with gabe episode about the campout last year i remember – that was pretty funny


      2. On the DU directory it lists two people that handle Marketing. I wonder what their backgrounds are? From what I have heard lots of restructuring going on over there. Maybe marketing got lost in the shuffle. Tickets sell themselves I guess.


      3. I think a woman Angel does the Marketing there. From what I have heard she can be extremely difficult to deal with.


    1. Where are the progress updates on social media like the press release in April stated? It also said it was supposed to be completed before the start of the year.


  6. Yo I only go to games when they market cool shit. Also I probably have 12 DU athletic shirts- who do you think designs those? Have you ever gone to a hockey game and done the tire roll? I have. And I won a fucking $10 gift card towards new snow tires so… ya’ll hatin for no reason.


  7. Yes, hatin on $1 t-shirt’s they buy in bulk and hand out and a crappy on ice promotion. You must be delusional if you think those draw fans to the games.


  8. ive been going to DU games for 10 years. the fact is that fans come when they win- ive seen it many times. someone even said in a comment tickets sell themselves because they are number 1 right now. that blatantly shows your lack of loyalty. last year fans stopped coming when they started off the season losing to ohio state and BC. and then they win and the place is packed. you are complaining about free t-shirts when the real problem is NO LOYALTY. Period. i love DU hockey and am a proud alum but often dissapointed with the lack of support from the community. the comments above are a great example of that.


    1. there’s a lot of loyal fans for sure but the admin doesn’t do a good job of attracting or retaining casual fans, that’s the point of thread. every team has ups and downs but good marketing helps ease the downs and that’s something du is lacking in which is why the real fans get upset.


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