All posts by Puck Swami

Longtime University of Denver fan and alumnus.

Denver and Notre Dame Skate to 2-2 tie in Season-Opener in South Bend

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Notre Dame Freshman Goalie Dylan St. Cyr had 46 saves as the game’s first star. Photo Courtesy: University of Notre Dame

University of Denver sophomore all-American Henrik Borgström scored both goals, but the #1 ranked defending NCAA Champion Pioneers had to settle for a 2-2 tie with the #4 ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish in a re-match of last year’s NCAA hockey semifinal before a near-capacity crowd of 4,478 fans at Notre Dame’s Compton Family Ice Arena in South Bend, Ind.

The Pioneers (0-0-1), playing in their season opener, did get an extra sense of reward with a fourth-round, post-overtime shootout win on a top-corner wrist shot by freshman Kohen Olischefski, but that was all for fun, as the NCAA does not recognize shootout wins in regular season play.

The Irish, (2-0-1), who had the benefit of two prior games last weekend, can be excited that a game in which they were badly outshot by DU, resulted in a tie.

“I was really happy,” said DU coach Jim Montgomery after the game. “I thought that was by far the best first game, in my five years here, that this Denver team has played. I thought we played fast and possessed pucks. In the second period, you know, you’re playing a top-five team. [Notre Dame] came back and they got into the game and then it was a really…for the first game of the year…that was a great hockey game. The exciting part is that hopefully we can grow from this and get better. There’s a couple areas we weren’t great at, but overall I was really happy with our effort and our execution.”

A tension-filled third period was filled with heroics in the final minutes, and as the game wound down, it looked like the Pioneers would win it, as they had three times as many final period shots as the Irish. Borgström’s power-play goal (his second goal of the game) at the 14:38 mark of the third period had sent the Pioneers ahead 2-1 on a gorgeous cross-ice feed from winger Troy Terry, who had split two Notre Dame defenders to set up Borgström on the doorstep, as the Pioneer bench erupted with excitement.

However, the Denver lead didn’t last long, as the Irish were able to equalize the game at 2-2 with Andrew Oglevie’s own power-play goal from between the circles with 4:39 remaining in the third period, the result of an interference penalty call on DU’s Blake Hillman that Montgomery questioned after the game.

The Pioneers, using superior speed, outshot Notre Dame in all three periods of regulation time for a 46-22 total, including 21-7 in the third period, but the heavier Notre Dame squad had the better shot opportunities in the overtime, outshooting the Pios, 7-2 in the extra five minutes, including one shot that clanked off the DU crossbar that almost ended the game as a Notre Dame victory.

The game had started out as a first-period track meet, with up-and-down action with no penalties and no icing calls. While the Pios dominated the shots in the opening frame, it was the Irish who drew first blood with a Jack Evans goal, which came from a juicy rebound of ND’s Cam Morrison’s long wrist shot at the 14:01 mark, a rebound that had bounced off DU goalie Tanner Jaillet’s leg pad straight to Evans in front of the DU goal.

But the Pios took that Irish punch to the nose personally, and roared back just 15  seconds later, as Borgström combined for for a nifty give-and-go with Adam Plant to tie at the game at 1-1. Borgström had carried the puck into the ND zone, dropped a pass to Plant, who ripped a perfect pass back to Borgström, who had faded into the ND left face-off circle. As Plant’s pass arrived, the Finnish sensation rifled a one-timer high into the Notre Dame goal to beat Irish goalie Dylan St. Cyr to silence the ND crowd from the celebration of Evans’ goal that was being announced to the crowd at the same time Borgström tied the game for the Pioneers.

The 1-1 tie scoreline held up until the third period, with the Irish getting increasingly physical in an attempt to slow down the faster Pioneers.

“[Denver] had a lot of shots,” said Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson after the game. “But until maybe the third period at times, I thought that Dylan (St. Cyr) didn’t have to make great saves. He had to make some late in the game, which is really important for a good goaltender. I thought we did a good job without the puck, but we could do a better job with it. That would be my big takeaway from tonight’s game.”

St. Cyr is the son of Manon Rheaume (the first female goalie to play in an NHL exhibition game back in the 1990s), was voted first star in the game with his 46 saves on the night. Borgström was named second star by scoring both Pioneer goals to open what figures to be his final Pioneer season before joining the Florida Panthers, who selected him in the First Round of the 2016 NHL Draft.

The Pioneers also got strong play from wing Liam Finlay, who had seven shots on goal and center Tyson McLellan, who went 13-3 in the face-off circle.

DU and Notre Dame play in the series finale tomorrow at 4 pm MT, with the telecast on NBC Sports Network.

 

 

 

Puck Swami: DU Athletic leadership change offers new Vice Chancellor possibilities

Screen Shot 2017-08-27 at 11.01.04 PM(Photo Credits: University of Denver (Grahame, Peck), Swarthmore College (Akotaobi), Tulane University (Macneill), St. Cloud St. University (Weems), Blacktop Colorado (Willis)

We’ve now had a few days to process the major change in athletic leadership coming our way as DU fans: DU Vice Chancellor for Athletics and Recreation Peg Bradley-Doppes announced her retirement at the end of the 2017/18 school year.  While longtime DU Deputy Athletic Director Ron Grahame is taking over the athletic director’s day-to-day responsibilities immediately, DU also announced that a nationwide search would take place this year to ultimately fill the vice-chancellor’s position that Peg has filled so well for the last nearly 15 years. Continue reading Puck Swami: DU Athletic leadership change offers new Vice Chancellor possibilities

UTAH GOES NCAA D-I IN MEN’S LAX: WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR DU?

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Photo: University of Utah

You may (or may not) have noticed yesterday that the University of Utah announced it would start a Division I Men’s Lacrosse program in 2018-2019.  In doing so, the Utes will become the western-most school to offer NCAA D-I men’s lacrosse, thus displacing DU (and Air Force) as the current westernmost schools to field D-I men’s lacrosse programs. Continue reading UTAH GOES NCAA D-I IN MEN’S LAX: WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR DU?

Furious comeback waved off in last minute as Pioneers fall one win short of National Championship

Photo courtesy DU Athletics

FOXBOROUGH, Mass.  — As former Philadelphia Phillies baseball all-star outfielder Gary Maddox once memorably said after dropping a fly ball that cost the Phillies the National League pennant in 1977, “God answers all prayers, but sometimes, the answer is ’no.’“ Continue reading Furious comeback waved off in last minute as Pioneers fall one win short of National Championship

Puck Swami: DU Fans Need to Step Up for #Skatefor8!

C79fdAJU8AA6uZoThe United Center in Chicago – Home of the 2017 NCAA Frozen Four – Photo: NCAA

This is a very big week for everyone connected to the University of Denver, as our top-ranked Pioneers skate for NCAA Hockey Title #8 in Chicago. Over 1,000 DU fans will watch the game live at the United Center in Chicago, and thousands more will gather at the at least 13 DU-sponsored watch parties around the country or in front of their personal screens on ESPN around the world to cheer on the Pioneers, celebrating our common emotional bond with our team and school. Continue reading Puck Swami: DU Fans Need to Step Up for #Skatefor8!

Trevor Baptiste Becomes DU’s Greatest Face-off Man, Leads Pios to 20-11 Big East win over Georgetown

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It was the Trevor Baptiste record-setting show, as the junior from Denville, N.J. set a DU career record and tied another to lead the Denver Pioneers to a 20-11 Big East League men’s lacrosse victory over the Georgetown Hoyas before a sellout crowd on a dreary gray day at Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium.

Baptiste became the University of Denver’s all-time face-off leader in just his junior year, setting the school record with 736 wins in passing DU legends Chase Carraro and Geoff Snider, going 26-for-30 on the day.  The possession advantage Baptiste created helped the Pioneers to season high 20 goal output, the most DU has scored since 2012.  The Pioneers had a balanced attack behind 11 different goal scorers, but the 4-goal, 5-assist assist performance from senior All American Connor Cannizzaro led the way offensively with nine points, moving him into a tie for 3rd place all time in DU scoring with Todd Dickson (199 points), and behind Mark Matthews (216 points) and Wes Berg’s 255 career points.

Baptiste also tied Ben Wahler’s 2008 school record with his 26 face-off wins on the day and moved into ninth place on the all time NCAA career lacrosse face-off winners list – incredible for a player only two-thirds of his way through his junior season. He also picked up 17 ground balls on the day, and even scored a goal.

“Baptiste was so tenacious,” said DU coach Bill Tierney of his face-off star after the game. “He did so many different moves against five different face off [opponents]…we’re glad he’s on our side.”

Indeed the only way the Hoyas could even slow Baptiste was to put all three long pole players into the face-off play, which Georgetown did in the second half.

The Pioneers (7-2 overall, 1-0 Big East) broke open a close 8-6 halftime lead with an eight goals, including seven unanswered in a dominant 11 minutes of the third quarter to  delight another sellout home crowd and put away the somewhat snakebit Hoyas, who fell to 2-8 on the season, and 0-1 in Big East pay.

“I was little emotional at halftime,” Tierney said, referring to what was likely a paint-peeling halftime address to his Pioneers, who were sloppy and sluggish with too many turnovers and some lazy play in the first half.  “We weren’t playing well in the first half, but we were scoring goals and winning face-offs…We needed to make sure we got a good convincing win and we did that.”

Besides Baptiste’s dominance at the X, Sophomore goalie Alex Ready woke up from a tough 3-save first half to make four third quarter saves to help change the momentum of the game to finish with seven saves on the day.

Daniel Buccaro was the top offensive bright spot for Georgetown, with a three goal hat trick to go with three assists on the day.

The Pioneers stay home in Denver this week to face Big East rival Villanova next Saturday at 12 pm MT.

DU to send Pep Band and Cheer Team to Frozen Four, adds free student tickets

8827100-38832436Photos: University of Denver

LetsGoDU has learned from Brandon Macneill, DU Athletics’ Associate Vice Chancellor for External Affairs, that plans are being finalized to send the DU Pioneer Pep Band and DU Cheerleaders to Chicago next week for the NCAA Frozen Four. DU’s band, as the higher-seeded ‘home team,’ will also play the National Anthem before Thursday’s National Semi-Final against Notre Dame. Additionally, DU will provide a limited amount of free tickets for DU students who can get to Chicago for the game(s). Continue reading DU to send Pep Band and Cheer Team to Frozen Four, adds free student tickets

Pioneers roar into NCAAs with five consecutive goals to beat Michigan Tech 5-2.

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Photo: NCAA

The #1 overall seed and top-ranked University of Denver Pioneers roared out to a 5-0 lead on #19th ranked and #16 seeded Michigan Tech University in the first 25 minutes of the game, and then held off the Huskies’ two goal second period run to win the NCAA Midwest Regional quarterfinal, 5-2 at US Bank Arena in Cincinnati. Sophomore forward Colin Staub led the Pioneers with the first two goals, and junior goalie Tanner Jaillet turned away 16 MTU shots to record the victory.

The Pioneers advance to face #9 overall seeded Big Ten Tournament Champion Penn State, as the Nittany Lions were 10-3 victors over Union College in the other Midwest Regional quarterfinal.  DU and Penn State will face off on Sunday, March 26th at 4 pm (MT) on ESPNU, for the Midwest Regional Championship and a berth in the NCAA Frozen Four.

“It was a great start by our group,” DU coach Jim Montgomery said after the game. “You could tell, led by our seniors and juniors that we’ve been here [NCAA Regionals] before. We were very aggressive to start the game.”

Indeed, The Pioneers’ red-hot start overwhelmed the WCHA Champion Huskies, as DU fired 17 first period shots to only 5 for MTU, and the five unanswered DU goals scored were more than enough to win the game early. Staub’s two first period goals set the tone for the game in the first 12 minutes, and Senior Emil Romig scored the eventual game winner after a misplay by Michigan Tech goalie Angus Redmond to send the Pioneers up, 3-0 at 14:51. Freshman Tyson McLellan put the Pios up 5-0 at 4:26 of the second period, and the rout was on..

Michigan Tech scored twice late in the second period to cut Denver’s lead to three on goals by Gavin Gould and Jake Lucchini, but the Huskies would get no closer, as the Pioneers managed the puck well for the last period to close out the victory.

Denver has never played Penn State before, as the Nittany Lions are only in year five as a varsity program, but PSU figures to be a formidable obstacle for the Pioneers in the regional final. The 10 goals PSU scored against Union was a school record, and the most goals scored in an NCAA tournament game since 1990. However, Penn State hasn’t faced the nation’s top defense before, and that is the Pioneers.

Game time is 4 pm Sunday (ESPNU).

Puck Swami: Pioneer Hockey Needs to Win NCAA Title Now

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Like most of you, I can’t wait for Saturday’s game.

I’ve been following the DU Hockey program for more than 35 years, and I’ve seen a lot of great Denver hockey teams. In my opinion, the current Pioneer edition has the potential to walk forever among the best of them, should they find success in the next four games of this memorable season. And while we Pioneer fans hope they win it all every year, if any team has the senior-laden experience, quality and depth to win a NCAA Championship, it is this DU team. Continue reading Puck Swami: Pioneer Hockey Needs to Win NCAA Title Now

Ohio State Buckeyes Thump DU Lax 16-7 in 3rd straight Spring Break Trip Debacle

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Photo: University of Denver

For the last three seasons, the DU men’s lacrosse team has taken a road trip to kick off spring break week in middle of March, often when still in the midst of final exams at DU.

And all to start all three trips every year since 2015, DU has been promptly kicked in the teeth by opponents, the latest one today’s 16-7 pummeling at the hands of the 18th ranked Ohio State Buckeyes in Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.

It reminds us well of last year’s 15-10 Spring Break beat down DU suffered at the hands of lower-ranked Penn State in Dallas in 2016, and the 13-11 DU loss to the Buckeyes in Columbus back in mid-March of 2015.

This year’s spring break debacle was far worse than the other two, though. Top-ranked DU was never in this game, falling behind 5-1 in the first quarter, and trailed 11-1 in the third quarter. The Pioneers did score some fourth quarter goals in garbage time to make the final 16-7 score seem even more respectable than the game actually was. DU goalie Alex Ready gave up 16 goals and only made six saves on the day, but it wasn’t all his fault, as DU suffered defensive breakdowns and a terribly sputtering offense for most of the day.

The Pioneers travel on to Towson, Md. next weekend, and let’s hope coach Tierney can right the ship.