Denver Misses NCAA Tournament for First Time Since 2007

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

27 thoughts on “Denver Misses NCAA Tournament for First Time Since 2007”

  1. Except when two of those losses were 3 on 3 OT, and 7 of your games are against sue, it doesn’t really say it all, does it?

      1. Funny you should say that. You know OT wins and losses were to be considered 55/45 because 3v3 right? So, yes, literally all Ws and Ls are not alike

      2. For NCAA purposes 3v3 is considered a tie, but you got nicked for the loss. So, a loss is still a loss. Nice try, though.

      3. To the comment below, 3vs3 losses are not considered a tie for NCAA purposes, that rule was changed before this season. The only ties for NCAA purposes are the games that were decided in a shootout.

  2. This should serve as a wakeup call. It’s time to go to work and improve the coaching, recruiting, strategy, playmaking, conditioning, etc.

  3. Just too bad we didn’t get a chance to play those 2 CC games. Ah well…the team really has no one to blame but themselves and COVID. If they were a stronger team mentally, they wouldn’t have coughed up a couple/few of those frustrating games. A bit of shame in breaking a 12 year string of NCAA appearances. So if this team has the requisite pride, they will come out swinging for redemption.

  4. 2-9 vs UND, UMD and St Cloud does say alot actually! Pios didn’t get it done! Let this marinate and come back with a vengence next year!

    1. Omaha 3-9-3-0 vs sue, dogs, huskies, du.
      DU 5-9-0-2 vs sue, dogs huskies, Omaha.

      DU 3-1-0-1 heads up vs Omaha

      This also says a lot

      My point? It’s ok to be annoyed that the committee made the wrong choice.

      1. Those aren’t the correct records and not the ones the committee was even looking at. I see what you did but there’s no “4th line” for 3on3 losses, they count as regular wins and losses. I didn’t like the rule change at the beginning of the season, but it is what it is. 3on3 OT cost DU the season.

  5. Now we have to root for all the NCHC teams to prove that our conference deserved 5 teams the tourney (or more).
    It’s really too bad NoDak and Duluth are in the same regional.

  6. What a surprise, the head of the selection committee is from Omaha. Guess who is playing in Loveland with the last pick!!!!

  7. Honestly, only an idiot would think this DU team deserved a tournament bid. Some people need to take off their crimson and gold tinted glasses while putting down the kool aid. Some people just can’t be objective.

  8. How many NCAA tournament wins did DU have between the ‘05 championship and Monty’s second season? I’ll wait and let someone figure it out. One hint: there was not much success in the tourney for DU during that time and those teams did deserve being placed in the tournament.

    1. If my memory serves correctly, they got one in that time frame. A lot of crazy things can happen in the tournament, and a success of a program is often measured by appearances, not crazy losses (unless it’s St. Cloud).

  9. Strange year and ultimately a bummer today. It’s too bad because I thought they looked great at the beginning of the season, even with their record coming out of the pod. This team needed non-conference games this season to improve their record and gain a little confidence. The NCHC is though and loses to CC and Miami stung. Hopefully the young guys will stay for another season and we don’t see a signing frenzy tomorrow…

  10. I am sad and disappointed, but not surprised. We all know this team had more than enough talent to be dancing, but they are not. Yes – playing 30% of the entire schedule against North Dakota, and playing 75% of the games on the road this year combined with no inter-league play certainly hurt DU’s record in very uncontrollable ways this year.

    That said, 10-13-1 is not an acceptable season record and the program took a big step back this year. The coaches know it. And the players know it. There was enough poor goaltending, scoring droughts, dumb penalties, flat starts, special teams sputters, face-off problems, and late game /OT fades to spell doom this year, and those elements are all on the Pios. Let’s hope this season was an aberration and they come back harder next year.

    So where from here? Let’s hope no one leaves early. No one on this DU team is NHL ready. Or even AHL ready.

    I think Chrona proved with his late season run that he’s an NCHC top-4 goaltender again. Expect him to be strong next year. He has to be.

    Defensively, Demin, Mayhew, Tuomisto, Benning, Irwin and Lee will form a very solid and experienced NCHC defensive corps, plus Krenzen as another body. No complaints here, especially if senior Griffin Mendel or Bo Hanson sticks around for an extra Covid year.

    Offensively, there are more question marks. Brink needs to produce way more than he did if DU is to elevate into the elite team next year, while Guttman, Stapely, Crone and Savoie all have high-end skill sets that need to be more consistent and less injured. Caponi can more than fill the Durflinger agitator role if Durf (a senior) moves on and does not stick around for an additional Covid year, while Edwards, Webster, Works, and King will all need to make the leap into point producers next season.

    The physical side of the offense is probably going to lose size — Barrow, Heikkenen, Doremus, Jandric, and Olichefski all theoretically graduating, except if they are encouraged to return for another year of Covid eligibility. Assuming those guys do move on, the returning team looks really small up front, with no returning forwards over 6 feet (Works) or over 190 lbs (Savoie, Edwards). Looking at the incoming recruits, I’m not seeing much size headed to Denver up front next season, either.

    Finally, there needs to be a hungrier mentality next year, from both players and coaches.

    This year was a wake-up call for everyone in that locker room — More is expected from Denver Pioneers…

  11. Honestly, only an idiot would think this Omaha team deserved a tournament bid. Some people need to take off their red and black tinted glasses while putting down the kool aid. Some people just can’t be objective.

    It’s not whether DU “deserved” it by your metric, it’s whether they deserved it more than Omaha. Because that was the decision. NCHC was not getting more than 4.

    Again, it’s not “idiotic” to be annoyed the committee, helmed by the UNO AD, made the wrong choice. Is it bowling Green from the 1980s? No. But it sucks

  12. I always think you can learn the most from setbacks. This season was full of them – inconsistent goaltending, inability to score early, inability to score timely goals and untimely penalties. All things we are not used to seeing.

    North Dakota has 3-4 star college players who have a great professional future. I am more disappointed that UMD and St Cloud have similar talent to DU but DU is beginning to struggle against these teams.

    There will be plenty of time for the coaching staff to complete a post-mortem on this season and the responsibility falls on coaches and players and future recruits to generate the talent and production that we’ve come to expect. No time to panic – just a time to asess and adjust.

    No doubt this is a wake-up call. But there is good leadership from Carle and Company to make this a call to action. It will feel strange to watch the tounament without Denver sweaters but it was the right call by the selection committee.

  13. Like most, I’m very disappointed the season is over and can’t help but think “what could have been” had DU been able to earn a spot with presumably a full squad. That said, as other posters mention, the Pios have no one but themselves to blame here. While we could sit here and argue about Omaha, Notre Dame, and whoever else, the fact of the matter is when you put your fate in the hands of a committee and don’t earn a spot on the basis of merit, that’s your problem.

    I’m sure it will be a long offseason for the coaches and returning players. There’s a lot to address heading into the 2021-22 season, and Carle needs to make sure this season was an anomaly and not a sign of things to come. I think in some ways it’s a pivotal offseason. It’ll be year 4 of the Carle legacy. Year 1 was largely roses, with DU coming within a goal of playing for a championship. Obviously we have no way of knowing what would have transpired last spring, but with Ian Mitchell leading the way, there was certainly the promise of postseason success. This year, needless to say, was largely one to forget. What will we see next season? I count 9 seniors who will be departing–do we know what type of impact recruits we can look forward to seeing?

  14. The DU list of recruits for next season includes ZERO players over 6 ft. and none over 176 lbs. That may not bode well against the size of UND, UMD,, StC, nor even Omaha.

  15. We need some big guys at forward who can mix it up in front of the goal. Definitely, a problem area for DU this season.

  16. Get a grind line, 6 ft 200 pounders who can skate, finish checks, cycle, play below the dots. Wear done their D, Compliment the skill guys. ‘Let em know you’re there”

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