The Denver Pioneers hockey roster continues to change, as rising junior forward Emilio Pettersen has left DU to sign an entry level contract with the Calgary Flames, while fellow rising junior Tyler Ward is transferring from DU to the University of New Hampshire, where he will need to sit out a year. According to the Grand Forks Herald, DU will help mitigate these losses as the beneficiary of two incoming graduate transfers with immediate eligibility join the DU team next season in- all-WCHA forward Steven Jandric of Alaska-Fairbanks and defenseman Bo Hanson from St. Lawrence University of the ECAC. While DU has yet to publicly announce the two transfers, both transfers were confirmed to LetsGoDU last week.
Pettersen had 19 goals, 46 assists and a +9 rating in 76 games with the Pioneers. Last season, the Mangelrud, Norway native led the Pioneers in scoring with 35 points on 13 goals and 22 assists, ranking T-4th among NCHC skaters to earn Second-Team All-NCHC honors and a nomination as finalist for NCHC Forward of the Year. He played in all 36 games and led Denver with points in 25 of them. Pettersen produced 20 power-play points to rank 2nd in the NCHC and 8th in the NCAA. In conference games, he had 23 points to rank T-5th among NCHC skaters and secure the team’s Dallas Gaume Offensive Player of the Year award. He was also a member of the NCHC all-Academic team, and will be a major loss for the Pioneers.
“Another year of college wouldn’t have hurt him at all, but he was really anxious for the next step,” said Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving to reporter Wes Gilbertson, reporting at canoe.com. “And what I like about [Pettersen] is his mindset isn’t, ‘OK, I’ve signed and I’m just going to jump right into Calgary.’ He’s eager to come to training camp next year, whenever that is, and show what he’s got. So it’s not like he’s resigning himself that he’s not going to make the team. But he also understands the process. What stuck out to me, when we were talking about the pros and cons of both options, is that he was like, ‘I just look at it a year from now, and if I’m in Stockton [Calgary’s AHL minor league affiliate] and I’m playing pro and I’m playing against those players, I’m that much closer a year from now.’ So I think his mentality is the right mentality. He’s driven, and he’s not afraid of the work.”
Pettersen began his collegiate career with a 30-point freshman season, posting the second-most points among Denver skaters, fourth-most among NCAA freshmen and receiving the team’s Barry Sharp Freshman of the Year award as well as the athletic department’s Pioneer Sportsman of the Year award as the top freshman. He missed only one regular season game in two seasons, but missed the NCAA Frozen Four in 2018 with a broken arm.
Internationally, Pettersen represented Norway at the 2016 and 2017 IIHF World U18 Championship Division I tournaments and most recently the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship – Division I Group A where he posted three goals and three assists in four games. Calgary selected Pettersen in the 6th round of the 2018 NHL Draft.
Ward, a Kamloops, BC native, had mostly third-line duties with the Pioneers over his first two seasons, compiled 15 goals and 34 points in 74 games with DU, with 19 of those points coming last season. While official reasons for transfer are rarely divulged, most players who transfer leave because they see themselves playing a larger role than the coaches project for that player, and it’s the likely assumption that Ward saw a better opportunity to play a more prominent role at UNH, a school that also recruited Ward heavily in his junior hockey days.
The good news for Denver is the expected incoming transfers of Jandric and Hanson, who will reportedly come to DU next fall as graduate students with one year of immediate eligibility remaining, as they already will have earned their undergraduate degrees by the time next season rolls around.
Jandric (5-11, 180 lbs.) was Alaska-Fairbanks’ leading scorer last season, scoring 13 goals and 33 points in 35 games as an all-WCHA first team selection. The Prince George, British Columbia-native had 13-18-31 in conference play, ranking fourth in goals, second in assists and and third in points in the WCHA. Jandric strung together a very impressive point-streak during the season, generating a goal and/or an assist in 12 straight games dating from January 11 through March 6. That streak included a natural hat trick against the University of Alaska Anchorage in game three of the Governor’s Cup series, where he scored three straight goals in the third period alone. Jandric has registered 80 career points in 107 games skating for UAF, exceeding all of his teammates, including his UAF 2020 senior class in career scoring. Back in his junior hockey days before college, Jandric also edged fellow Pioneer Brett Stapley for the team scoring lead on the 2017 Vernon Vipers in the British Columbia Junior Hockey league, with 51 points to Stapley’s 50 points.
Hanson, a 6-2, 205 pound defenseman, had 11 goals and 36 assists for 47 points in 102 games over his three years with the St. Lawrence Saints. He was St. Lawrence’s second-leading scorer with an impressive 19 points from the blue line as a junior last year . He’ll likely help fill the hole left by departing senior-to-be Ian Mitchell, who signed earlier this month with the Chicago Blackhawks. A native of Boise, Idaho, Hanson also played in all 37 games as a sophomore and led the Saints’ defensive corps in scoring with four goals and 13 assists for 17 points, including a team-best 15 points in conference play, and leading the Saints in blocked shots with 68. He was the recipient of the team’s Peter McGeough Award as top defenseman that year and was a member of the ECAC Hockey All-Academic Team, as well as an AHCA Scholar All-America. He is finishing his undergraduate degree in just three years in order to join the Pioneers as a grad student. Hanson is no stranger to Colorado, playing on the Colorado Rampage U16 youth team before playing his junior hockey days in the USHL.