The long, excruciating wait is over. The Denver Pioneers’ season has officially ended. After going 10-13-1, the NCAA Tournament selection committee determined that the Pios’ resume simply was not strong enough to earn a bid to the 16-team field. This is disappointing, though not altogether surprising news for the Pioneers as they could not find much consistency over the course of a tough, Covid-affected season. The uncontrollable factors worked against the Pioneers and they didn’t do enough with what they could control and as a result, Denver’s 12-year streak of NCAA Tournament bids has come to an end.
This is certainly the most disappointing day in the recent history of Denver Hockey and there will be time over the coming weeks to dissect and analyze just what went wrong for the Pioneers. But in the end, as we expected, it came down to Denver and Omaha out of the NCHC and Omaha got the nod by virtue of the Mavs’ better record. Notre Dame also got the nod ahead of Denver which no doubt sticks in the craw of Pioneers the world over. But as we said in our piece on Friday making DU’s case, the committee had an impossible task and no matter what they did, they’d be wrong.
“It’s been absolutely chaotic for the committee — I’m sure the last week certainly but definitely the last 48 hours,” Denver head coach David Carle told College Hockey News. “One of the biggest things I’d like to do is thank them for serving on the committee. They had a tough job to do and they weren’t going to make everyone happy.
“It is what it is. We are moving on. At the end of the day, it’s unacceptable for our program to be in this position. We’d like to prove that this year wasn’t up to our standard. At the end of the day, we have to take responsibility. We live in a world where people like to assign blame, but we’re in this position because we left too much doubt in the committee’s mind — and that’s our responsibility.”
The other part that stings the most for many DU fans is the Pioneers were slated to host the Loveland regional and they won’t be playing in their own regional. Instead, the Loveland regional will be:
#1 Minnesota vs #4 Omaha
#2 Minnesota State vs #3 Quinnipiac
The remaining three regionals are below:
Bridgeport Regional March 26-27
#1 Wisconsin vs. #4 Bemidji State
#2 UMass vs. #3 Lake Superior State
Fargo Regional March 26-27
#1 North Dakota vs. #4 American International
#2 Michigan vs. #3 Minnesota Duluth
Albany Regional March 27-28
#1 Boston College vs. #4 Notre Dame
#2 St. Cloud State vs. #3 Boston University
We will put together a full season review in the coming weeks, but for now, sound off in the comments your thoughts and disappointments. We ask that you keep it respectful but we also want to provide a place for you to vent.
Photo: The NCHC