Photo courtesy of Shannon Valerio
The number 31 manned the University of Denver Pioneers’ pipes during Saturday night’s game against the Lake Superior State Lakers. While DU fans are accustomed to the redhead goalie Evan Cowley sporting jersey number 31, Cowley has since graduated and the uniform has been passed on and acquired by freshman Dayton Rasmussen.Sporting, the nickname “Ras” on the back of his helmet, the Eden Prairie, Minn. native received the nod for his first collegiate start following the Pioneers’ 3-3 tie to the Laker’s in the first game of the series on Friday, Oct. 20. Rasmussen boasted 15 saves over the 16 shots he faced during DU’s 5-1 victory on Saturday night.
“I thought he played great, you could couldn’t ask for anything more from a first start of freshman goalie,” Head coach Jim Montgomery said. “He was on top of his blue pane, he was finding pucks in traffic, he was swallowing up pucks, he was deflecting pucks from bad angles into the stands or into the corners so we could breakout or take faceoffs. He was excellent; his game management, everything about him. We were very happy about with him.”
Rasmussen’s parents, sister and brother (who lives in Denver) were in attendance for the game as it was Homecoming Weekend at DU, adding a personal sentiment to have his loved ones witness his first career start.
“It was awesome,” Rassmussen said. “My sophomore year I played for the Colorado Thunderbirds so I came to a few games, but the fans that were all here and the student section was great. We really stepped up tonight and had great communication.”
With a 6-foot-1, 197-pound frame, Rasmussen received playtime behind traditional starter Tanner Jaillet, but understands his role alongside the seasoned senior and 2017 Mike Richter award recipient.
“Tanner has been nothing but great to me,” Rasmussen said. “He’s been super helpful and supportive. Even the other freshman goalie Devin Cooley, they both were super happy for me; giving me hugs, it’s good competition. We are all pushing each other.”
The experience of playing a full 60-minute game in the atmosphere of Magness Arena, had heightened conditions as a result of the Homecoming Weekend festivities contributing to Rasmussen’s adrenaline.
“I was nervous,” Rasmussen said. “But I couldn’t think of a better first game to get in for.”
After logging his first collegiate game in the books, the freshman is only looking forward to bettering himself and his teammates as he works to earn the starting spot in net in the future.
“I feel good, it’s just the start,” Rasmussen said. “Maybe I didn’t get tested as much as I would in certain games, but I’m just here to push Tanner and learn from Tanner and when I get my chances to step in I’ll get the chance to win. So going forward from here it’s just kind of a confidence booster. I’m just looking to get better.”