Denver Hockey Series Preview: Niagara

After a big sweep of the Boston College Eagles, the Pioneers had a week off to rest before hosting the Niagara Purple Eagles for the Pios’ 70th Anniversary Weekend. 170 Denver Hockey alumni are expected to be in town for the celebration. Meanwhile, on the ice, Denver is having a fantastic start to the season with a record of at 6-0-0.  The penalty kill is hot at 96%, they have five players averaging at least a point-per-game, and freshman Magnus Chrona is one of the best goalies in college hockey right now.  The Pioneers remain No. 1 in the USCHO poll with 46 first-place votes with conference games right around the corner.

It was quite the accomplishment beating a talented Boston College team two nights in a row.  Even with three first-round NHL draft prospects on their roster in Alex Newhook, Matthew Boldy, and goaltender Spencer Knight, the Pioneers made them look ordinary at times.  This Denver team doesn’t have the high-end skill that they had during the 2017 run, but they are as deep as they’ve been recently and can roll four lines.  They are getting contributions up and down the lineup, especially from senior alternate captain Tyson McLellan who earned NCHC player of the week honors.

This week, head coach David Carle spoke about things the Pioneers can still improve on despite their strong start to the season.  He noted puck management and being able to dictate the game for extended periods of time.  When asked about what’s going right for the team, Carle quickly responded with how tight a group this year’s team is and their ability to win games in different ways.  Last, when asked about the alumni weekend, Carle wants his team to go out and put on a good performance for the alumni who have put a lot into the Pioneer hockey program.

In the news

  • This weekend’s 70th Anniversary celebration will feature over 170 former players, a 70th Anniversary alternate jersey revealing, and Friday night will be Military Appreciation Night
  • Coach Carle reacted to the news that NCAA players could get compensated for their name, likeness, and image
  • Altitude Network reached a deal with DirectTV/AT&T
  • Magnus Chrona was featured on the NHL.com prospect spotlight
  • Dylan Gambrell scores his first NHL goal

Niagara Purple Eagles (0-4-0)

In the series against Boston College, something clicked with the Pioneers and the goals just rained in.  It’s going to be something similar for Niagara if they fail to keep the Pioneers contained.  Winless in their first four games against Minnesota and Sacred Heart, the Purple Eagles are struggling to score.  They are 0-15 on the powerplay and their penalty kill isn’t much better at 65%.

Although he’s having a slow start to this season, Swedish forward Ludwig Stenlund is probably the most dangerous player for the Purple Eagles.  Finishing last season with 23 goals and 19 assists, Stenlund was very productive on the powerplay and had over 100 shots on goal for the season.

In net, Niagara features junior Brian Wilson who is 0-3-0 with a GAA of 3.03 and a save percentage of .894.  The 6’4″ netminder from Pickering Ontario has started 30+ games the last two seasons for the Purple Eagles.  In his last three starts, Wilson has given up at least three goals on under 30 shots per game.

It will be hard for Niagara to compete with Denver’s speed, but it won’t be impossible for them to make at least one of the weekend games competitive.  Denver has let some unranked teams steal games in the past, but that will be difficult against for team averaging barely a goal per game.  Niagara will have to take fewer than their average of 15 penalty minutes per game and take it to the Pioneers physically.

Prediction – Pioneers sweep

As much as the Purple Eagles would love to play spoiler this weekend during Denver’s anniversary celebration, the No. 1 team in college hockey will most likely be too much to handle.  With just five goals this year, Niagara will have a tough time getting through the Denver defense and to Magnus Chrona.  David Carle said he wants to keep the his foot on the gas and remain relentless. The Pioneers should haven’t a problem doing that against the winless Purple Eagles.

Twitter Follow – @NiagaraMHKY

Where to Watch/Listen

Friday – 7:07pm MT – tv: NCHC.tv radio: 104.3 The Fan

Saturday – 7:07pm MT tv: NCHC.tv radio: 104.3 The Fan

2 thoughts on “Denver Hockey Series Preview: Niagara”

  1. Should be a festive and fun atmosphere this weekend, celebrating 70 years of DU hockey. Can’t wait.

    On the one hand, I expect the Pios to come out flying, amped up to put on a show for the alums. On the other hand, it’s hard not to look at this weekend as a classic trap series. DU is 6-0, #1 in the country. Niagara is winless at 0-4. Pios last played 2 weeks ago and swept a very talented BC team. A tough road trip to Duluth looms as NCHC play starts next weekend. Pios need to take care of business this weekend.

  2. I did not get todays posting! My wife shared it with me. Can you make sure I am on your mailing list

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