DU, NCHC release schedules as temporary salve ahead of would-have-been Frozen Four

We are supposed to be in Detroit preparing for Denver’s matchup with Worcester Regional champion (probably North Dakota) right now. We were supposed to fly out yesterday morning, bring you all the pre-Frozen Four content that you’ve grown accustomed to over the past five years – three Frozen Fours in that span make for a pretty great habit. Instead, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the season was canceled last month and we haven’t had any hockey – college or professional – since. We didn’t get conference tournaments, we didn’t get NCAA Regionals, and now, probably the most painful of all, there is no Frozen Four.

Yesterday though, NCHC fans were treated to temporary relief from all the doom and gloom that comes with being forced to stay home due to a pandemic when the sport’s westernmost conference released its 2020-2021 schedule. Denver, to its credit, had already released the nonconference portion of its schedule weeks ago so yesterday’s announcement from the conference served to finalize the Pioneers’ full schedule for next year:

Some observations:

The Pioneers will play just one of their first eight games of the year – not counting the exhibition vs. British Columbia – at Magness Arena as they travel to Madison, WI, the Boston metro area, Colorado Springs, and Kalamazoo, MI over the course of the first month of the season.

DU will rekindle two old WCHA rivalries as they travel to play Wisconsin to open the season and host Alaska Anchorage. This will be the second time in the last three years that Denver has traveled to Madison to take on the Badgers while this is the first time the Pioneers play the Seawolves since they fell 3-2 in overtime in Anchorage in October 2013.

Not only will all of the Gold Pan matchups finally take place while school is in session, the first two games between DU and CC will take place over the course of two consecutive weekends in February with the Pios and new-look Tigers playing just once each weekend. Then, as is tradition since the 2018-2019 season, DU and CC will close out the regular season against each other.

Returning to the schedule after a one-year hiatus is local rival and fan-favorite nonconference opponent Air Force for a home-and-home weekend in October. Saturday’s matchup will also serve as the flagship event for Homecoming Weekend.

And finally, Arizona State returns to the schedule as the Pios and Sun Devils will square off at the beginning of December as DU will attempt to erase the memory of that 0-1-1 weekend four months ago. They should have a pretty good chance at doing so since both games will be played in a real arena at Magness as opposed to the glorified phone booth ASU Hockey calls home (as an aside, it appears ASU may have finally broken ground on a new arena. There has been no official announcement yet but we’re keeping an eye on that situation).

It’s far too soon to tell, but given that there was no Frozen Four this year, there is a very good chance LetsGoDU may take this show on the road for a non-Colorado road trip. We’re currently deciding whether to go to Madison for the Wisconsin series or back to Boston for the BC/PC weekend.

Before you comment on the schedule, believe me when I tell you everyone understands the reality that the pandemic may still be wreaking havoc on collegiate athletics later this Fall. No one needs yet another rude reminder. There is no reason to police fans who are getting excited about this schedule announcement. COVID-19 has already forced the cancellation of the Frozen Four – which would have started today – and we don’t need any more negative energy in the world right now.

Let’s keep the positive vibes going and allow some excitement for a new season to flow!

4 thoughts on “DU, NCHC release schedules as temporary salve ahead of would-have-been Frozen Four”

  1. I’d give the schedule a “C”. I like the CC and UND rivalry games happening while school is in session, and the BC/Providence road trip is excellent for our East Coast alums. Glad to see AFA back on the schedule.

    Having 7 of the first 8 games on the road is annoying, and the fact that these are tough games makes it difficult for the team and hard on the home fans to build excitement.

    I am also not a fan of home games during the DU school break, so the ASU and UAA home series’ happening during the break is a downer. I am also not a fan of splitting the first DU/CC series (must have been an arena conflict in Colorado Springs), nor am I fan of staging both of the CC series in the second half of the season, which is unusual.

    While I like the quality of the non-league opponents this year, I don’t like that the best of those opponents are road games.

  2. I like the schedule, especially because DU has a pretty experienced team. I think they will do fine on the road with early bonding. After the first four or five weekends, we should have a pretty good understanding of the team’s strengths and weaknesses. As for a LetsGoDU road trip – it would have to be Boston. Since the BIG 10 broke away, I think Kohl Center has slipped. Plus our friends at Boston Interruption always make things interesting. As always, it will not be easy but David Carle will have the boys ready to go.

  3. I like the overall quality. Pios will be battle-tested for sure, especially early and then through mid-November. UW, BC, Providence, and UND. That’s a tough slate. Only one regular season home game between the start and the UND series?? That seems odd.

    On another note, any word on early departures? I’m assuming Ian Mitchell is headed to Chicago, but is there anyone else we should worry about?

    1. Ian Mitchell is the only early departure to worry about, however there is no need to report at this point in time. The longer it takes, the more hope there will be that he stays, naturally, but your best bet is to assume he’s going to sign.

      We’ll be sure to keep everyone posted on news related Mitchell’s decision, whenever that happens. There is just simply no news on that front to this point.

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