Pioneers Open New Year on Wrong Foot, Drop First Gold Pan Matchup 4-3

The hope for the #16 Denver Pioneers (3-7-1, 12 pts) was that the week and a half break between the NCHC Pod and the New Year’s Day matchup with the Colorado College Tigers (3-4-2, 14 pts) would offer a chance to hit the reset button and start 2021 back on the right track. Unfortunately, the break wasn’t enough as the same problems that haunted the Pioneers in Omaha – faceoff struggles and bad goaltending, to name a couple – showed themselves in full form at the World Arena in Colorado Springs as they fell to the Tigers 4-3 to open the second half of the season.

It wasn’t just the Pod problems that hurt the Pioneers, though. Whether it was a lack of desperation or CC’s own level of compete, DU struggled to play effective hockey in response to their goals. CC opened the scoring 13 minutes in and DU responded early in the second period thanks to a tip-in from Kohen Olischefski. After that goal, CC responded with two more of their own just three minutes apart in the second half of the second period. The same thing happened early in the third period as Ryan Barrow scored just 38 seconds into the final period but CC’s Connor Mayer responded 40 seconds later to restore the two-goal lead.

It was that kind of night for the Pioneers. They were never out of the game but they were also never really in it. They never led, Magnus Chrona made just 12 saves on 16 shots before Corbin Kaczperski replaced him in the third period, and once again Denver struggled to generate many sustained possessions. The Pioneers did outshoot the Tigers 24-16 when the final horn sounded, but that was largely thanks to a final 10 minutes that saw DU play the best hockey they played all evening. Cole Guttman was the beneficiary of that stretch of play as he scored with just under four minutes to go to give the Pioneers a chance at 4-3 but it ended up being too little too late.

It’s a disappointing way to start 2021 for the Pioneers, to say the least. It’s been an underwhelming start to the season and tonight’s loss to CC only adds to DU fans’ chagrin. DU and CC will travel north to Magness Arena tomorrow night to play the second of six total regular-season meetings between the archrivals and give the Pioneers another chance to become the sixth program to win 1,500 games.

David Carle Postgame


Top photo: Colorado Springs Gazette

7 thoughts on “Pioneers Open New Year on Wrong Foot, Drop First Gold Pan Matchup 4-3”

  1. Because CC sucks, Dunker expects CC to lose their next 5 to DU this season. Make that 7 if we beat them in the NCHC Playoffs. Playoffs, yes we’re talking playoffs.

  2. If you are what your record says you are, DU is 3-7-1. That’s underperformance personified.

    DU’s “lack of urgency” as coach Carle put it in the postgame, is incredibly frustrating at this point in the season. The program has the talent level to be an elite team, but we are just not seeing the complete level that we have seen in previous years. When they watch the film, they will see a lot of gliding instead of feet in motion. That’s a work ethic problem, and it is fixable, but it needs to happen soon. The season is slipping away…

    Quite the pattern with this bunch – Another slow start, another soft goal let in from Chrona from 30-40 feet or more, and the team falls behind and tries to chase the game for the rest of the night. CC was the better team last night for 50 of the 60 minutes, and that is just not an acceptable compete level for this program.

    At this point in the season, we need more from not only the players, but the coaches. Why doesn’t this team play with the passion and intensity it needs to win? Are the players not responding to Carle’s style? Is he being too soft on them? I don’t know what he is like in the locker room, but the coaches bear some blame for DU’s underperformance, too….

    My own theory is that DU hasn’t had goaltending this bad for 20 years, and they don’t appear to have confidence once Chrona lets in a soft goal. Couple that with slow starts and inability to win face-offs, and you have a team in constant chase mode instead of dominance mode.

    Something has to change…

  3. Swami- What did Herb say? Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t show up? Denver hasn’t been built to grind out wins.

  4. Well, the calendar reads 2021, and the Pod should be a distant memory, but unfortunately, the narrative continues with this DU hockey team–a consistent compete level once again lacking, slow start, subpar goaltending, struggles in the faceoff circle, etc. It’s rinse and repeat at this point, as this team continues to be an enigma.

    Credit CC–they were the better team last night and deserved to win. They sure as hell aren’t going to be feeling sorry for the Pioneers, and I’m sure would love nothing more than to see DU continue this slide. 3 more games against the Tigers before UND comes to town.

    Carle and his coaches didn’t suddenly become lousy at what they do before this season started. But there is a sizable disconnect between the message they are presumably conveying to the players and what is actually happening on the ice. It’s bizarre. And I wonder what Mendel, Barrow, and Olischefski have to say and what they are seeing. At this point it’s fair to question the mindset and approach of everyone on the ice or behind the bench.

    The regular season is nearly halfway over, and DU only has 3 wins. Pios need to get out of this pattern and do it quickly, before things get really ugly.

  5. DU also looked like a bunch of individuals playing hockey – not a team. Especially disappointing because CC with 11 freshman looked more cohesive and together. Let’s hope this is a wake-up call and they play with the same ugency that they had the last 10 minutes of last night’s game.

  6. Must be tough to lose to a team with 9 freshman on their starting line up. No way Denver is even close to a Top 16 team. DU looked like they forgot their skates, could not even match the speed from CC forwards.

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