Photo courtesy of the University of Denver
After the #8 Denver Pioneers failed to earn a win last weekend on the road against Arizona State, the Pioneers are now 1-4-3 in their last eight games following an 8-0-0 start to the season. But with the unranked rival Colorado College Tigers up next on the schedule, Denver has a prime opportunity to get back on track with a couple of NCHC wins. The Tigers return to Denver on Friday as keepers of the Gold Pan trophy for the first time since 2014.
Pioneers head coach David Carle met with the media this week and stressed the importance of urgency and work ethic leading into their series with Colorado College. Carle said he liked the Pioneers game last Saturday against Arizona State where sophomore Cole Guttman scored twice and Sun Devils forward Johnny Walker was held without a goal after recording a hat-trick the night before.
It’s hard to understand why the Pioneers offense has gone dry but here are just a few offensive droughts:
- Liam Finlay has just one point in his last six games
- After starting the season with a seven-game point streak, captain Ian Mitchell has just two points in his last nine games
- Hank Crone has one point in his last seven games
- The Pioneers no longer have any point-per-game players
Denver has lost games early in the season before, but it’s probably in their best interest to at least close 2019 with a win. The Pioneers have now dropped from the No. 1 team in college hockey to No. 8 but we all know rankings don’t mean everything. Historically, Denver has a habit of losing games against teams that, well, they shouldn’t. This means the weekend against ASU is not a cause for panic. Even before the 2017 run to the national title, Denver endured a winless December trip to Providence against the rebuilding Friars.
— Denver Hockey (@DU_Hockey) December 12, 2019
In the news
- Former Pioneers coach Jim Montgomery was dismissed from the Dallas Stars
- David Carle sat down with College Hockey News for a Q&A
- Carle also joined the ‘Kickin it with Kiz’ podcast to discuss the upcoming series with Colorado College
- Pioneers forward Bobby Brink was named to the Team USA World Juniors preliminary roster
Colorado College Tigers (6-5-1)
The Tigers are coming off a nice road series sweep against the lowly Princeton Tigers (#54 of 60 in the current Pairwise) where forward Chris Wilkie earned the NCAA’s number one star of the week honors after scoring four goals and an assist. Wilkie leads the team in scoring with 16 points and has the most shots on the team by far with 49 in 12 games. He and senior Nick Halloran, whose 2018-2019 season was cut short due to injury, are the two upperclassmen who drive the Tigers team. Halloran is an elite skater and can make plays out of nothing.
— CC Hockey (@CC_Hockey1) November 17, 2019
Colorado College is still a very young team, especially with sophomore Grant Cruikshank leading the team as captain. The Tigers also feature defenseman Bryan Yoon who looked very good last season quarterbacking the powerplay as a freshman. Blackhawks prospect Josiah Slavin and Edina, Minnesota-native Ben Copeland bring more size and skill to a Tigers team that looks like they could be finally turning the corner after what can only be characterized as a brutal past five-plus years.
Freshman goaltender Matt Vernon’s stats won’t do justice to how good he’s been in net for the Tigers. At 4-2-1, Vernon gives up a little over three goals per game but he has been victimized by an at-times porous CC defense that has allowed more than 35 shots per game. If Colorado College can clean up their team defense, Vernon can definitely give them a chance to win games. He and senior Ryan Ruck have split time between the pipes for the Tigers, but neither netminder has been particularly spectacular.
— NCAA Ice Hockey (@NCAAIceHockey) December 10, 2019
Here’s Tigers’ head coach Mike Haviland on facing Denver:
“I think both teams can skate. I’m watching film already on them and they can skate. They’re deep, they’ve got good goaltending. I look at them as a great rival. This is what you play for. We love playing against them and they love playing against us. We have the Gold Pan now, it took a lot to get it, we don’t want to give it up, and I’m sure they want it back. It’s a great rivalry in college hockey, but they’re a very good hockey team and so are we. I expect an intense game that’s going to be pretty quick. Both teams are pretty deep so it’s going to be a good hockey game. It’s about who can stay more disciplined and who can execute when it really comes down to it.”
Thoughts from Coach Haviland on this weekend's Gold Pan series against Denver. pic.twitter.com/rz6XnAmAZR
— CC Hockey (@CC_Hockey1) December 12, 2019
Prediction – Pioneers sweep
This may be a little aggressive but I think this is the weekend Denver turns things around. They’ve played really well on the big ice in Colorado Springs the last few years and there will be plenty of motivation at Magness Arena to win their game on Friday in front of a friendly home crowd. The Tigers are a simple team to figure out. They need to stop Chris Wilke and Nick Halloran, and stay out of the box. I’m predicting a big weekend for the Pioneers power play.
Twitter Follow – @CC-Hockey1
Where to Watch/Listen
Friday – 7:07pm MT – tv: Altitude 2 / NCHC.tv / TSN radio: 104.3 The Fan
Saturday – 7:07pm MT tv: AT&T Sportsnet / NCHC.tv radio: 104.3 The Fan