The Pioneers got the split against North Dakota last week and improved to 5-8-1, but that record doesn’t seem to do justice. The Pioneers are out-shooting their opponents on average 30-24, they’re getting quality chances, but they aren’t getting the puck luck. They’re 2-4 in one-goal games which could be the difference right now, especially how Denver started the season. In their first season without a national champion on the roster, this is a big test not only for the players but for coach David Carle. Leadership is going to play a big role in the next ten games of a unique season, but everyone knows it all starts with a little momentum.
Following a couple weeks off, it’s “North Dakota week” as the No. 18 Pioneers host the No. 2 Fighting Hawks this weekend in a rare Sunday-Monday series at Magness Arena. These teams met in the bubble twice just a month ago and split two nail-biting games that concluded with a Jordan Kawaguchi OT goal and a Carter Savoie go-ahead power play goal. This series shouldn’t be any different as DU is coming off a 6-1 game vs Colorado College and North Dakota is riding a six-game winning streak. Cue the fireworks.
Here we are, Pioneers fans. We have finally arrived at the end of the regular season and the only thing standing in the way of the #6 University of Denver Pioneers and the NCHC Tournament is the hated Colorado College Tigers. Having won the first two games against CC this year, the Pioneers are just one NCHC point away from bringing home the Gold Pan this season which would be important to the seniors. Michael Davies, Erich Fear, Liam Finlay, and Tyson McLellan leave behind a legacy as leaders and champions. Saturday night’s “white-out” will be their final game skating on Magness Arena ice in a Pioneers sweater and it will be an emotional one.
The No. 6 Pioneers rebounded last weekend with a pair of wins against the Miami University RedHawks. Denver’s offense exploded for 14 goals while the tandem of Magnus Chrona and Devin Cooley gave up three goals on 45 shots all weekend. While Cole Guttman and Ian Mitchell received forward and defenseman of the week honors from the NCHC, it was Tyler Ward to stood out, netting a hat trick in Friday’s game and adding a couple more assists in Saturday’s game. After Saturday’s game, head coach David Carle said the Pioneers were doing the right things they needed to do to win, and they kept their foot on the gas. Now, Denver battles St. Cloud State with the fourth and final home-ice berth on the line. Denver sits in fourth, one point behind Western Michigan for third-place and four points ahead of SCSU.
It was another difficult series for the No. 7 Pioneers who fell to the North Dakota Fighting Hawks 4-1 and 3-1 last weekend. Bobby Brink and Brett Edwards were the lone goal-scorers in each game in a series where it seemed that UND was getting most of the puck luck. It was a tough environment and an even harder battle getting back into games with the Fighting Hawks who played with a lead all weekend. The Pioneers also took a too-many-men minor in each game, something you don’t usually see. It’s been clear that Denver hasn’t been able to play their game in the last two series, but there’s an opportunity to make up some ground before playoff time. The Pioneers host the Miami RedHawks this weekend who may take the brunt of some built-up frustration.
With the Pioneers riding an 11-game unbeaten streak into the series with the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs, not many would’ve predicted Denver getting swept at home. It was an opportune moment for the Pioneers to take a strong position in the NCHC standings, but instead, they fall to a 3rd place tie with Western Michigan, each with 28 points. Head coach David Carle said that the Pioneers couldn’t match the intensity that UMD brought in the second game and they simply lost to the better team. The schedule doesn’t get any easier and no love will be lost as Denver travels to Grand Forks for a Valentine’s Weekend series with a Fighting Hawks team that is 14-1 at home this year.
Photo courtesy of Denver Athletics
It’s been quite the start to 2020 for the #5 Denver Pioneers. Dating back to December, the Pios haven’t lost in their last 11 games. And last week’s series against Miami may have been one of their strongest defensively. Holding the RedHawks to under 23 shots in both contests, Denver possessed the puck well and only took three penalties all weekend keeping Miami’s hot power play off the ice. When David Carle met with the media this week, he said the difference between his team now and a few months ago is that they’re better at growing after each game. Now, Denver faces #10 Minnesota Duluth and #2 North Dakota in back-to-back series and will have an opportunity to keep this roll going against two of the best teams in the country.
Photo courtesy of local12.com
Whether you saw it coming or not, the Pioneers had their hands full last weekend with Omaha. The Pioneers tied the Mavericks in both games but they came away with the extra points in the standings to pull within two points of Minnesota Duluth. Omaha has now given North Dakota and Denver a run for their money in back to back weekends and is earning a reputation of being a hard out. Come NCHC Tournament time, Omaha will not be a team that anybody wants to run into in the first round. This weekend, the Pioneers bring their nine-game unbeaten streak to Oxford, Ohio to face the Miami RedHawks.
Photo courtesy of Denver Athletics
It was quite the vibe last weekend at Magness Arena when the Pioneers swept the St. Cloud State Huskies in their biggest offensive explosion since early November against Niagara. Denver has now put together an impressive six-game winning streak heading into their first road series of 2020 against Omaha. It seems like each year it takes some time for the Pioneers to find their identity and the new year gives them the fresh slate they need to come out stronger. This seems to be the case as they’re red hot and climbing the USCHO ranks now as the No. 4 team in the country.
Photo courtesy of the St. Cloud Times
You can say it was revenge or just another series, but the #5 Denver Pioneers made a statement last weekend when they swept the #10 UMass-Amherst Minutemen. It wasn’t the prettiest at times but the Pioneers found ways to find goals from dirty areas and create havoc in front of the net. Now winners of four straight games, the Pioneers host the unranked St. Cloud State Huskies and will try to improve on their 3-3-2 record in the NCHC.