All posts by Puck Swami

Longtime University of Denver fan and alumnus.

Puck Swami’s Rapid Reaction: DU Extends Coaching Legend Bill Tierney’s Contract through 2024

DU lacrosse coaching legend Bill Tierney is now signed through 2024. Photo: DU

University of Denver men’s lacrosse head coach Bill Tierney has signed a contract extension to keep him DU through the 2024 season, DU Vice Chancellor for Athletics, Recreation and Ritchie Center Operations Karlton Creech announced in a press release on Wednesday, Dec. 4. Continue reading Puck Swami’s Rapid Reaction: DU Extends Coaching Legend Bill Tierney’s Contract through 2024

70 Years of DU Hockey History Part IV: The Current Era – 2013-2019

Our own Puck Swami has authored a four-part historical retrospective for the 70th anniversary of the DU Hockey program. This is Part IV. Part One can be found here, Part II can be found here and Part III can be found here. While these stories run far longer than our usual stories, remember that 70 years is a lot to cover. Enjoy!

DU Captain, all-American and Hobey Baker winner Will Butcher (at left with NCAA Trophy) led the 2017 Pioneers to the program’s eighth NCAA Championship. Photo: Robin Alam

Continue reading 70 Years of DU Hockey History Part IV: The Current Era – 2013-2019

70 Years of DU Hockey History Part III: The Gwozdecky Years – 1994-2013

Our own Puck Swami has authored a four-part historical retrospective for the 70th anniversary of the DU Hockey program. This is Part III. Part One can be found here, Part II can be found here and Part IV will follow in the coming weeks. While these stories run far longer than our usual stories, remember that 70 years is a lot to cover. Enjoy!

Gwoz on Bench
George Gwozdecky resurrected the Denver Hockey program from years of decline in the late 80s and early 90s, winning two NCAA titles in 2004 and 2005.  He also created the long streak of 20+ win seasons the program now expects each year as a perennial top 10 program. Photo: University of Denver

Continue reading 70 Years of DU Hockey History Part III: The Gwozdecky Years – 1994-2013

Pioneer Volleyball Stays Hot, Sweeps North Dakota State Bison At Home

Kylra Porch (#5 at right) hits for the Pioneers against North Dakota State. The Pioneers swept the Bison 3-1 on Sunday, Nov. 10 at Hamilton Gym in Denver. Photo: Jason Evans

The University of Denver volleyball team continued their hot play at home, sweeping the North Dakota State Bison (25-23, 25-19, 25-11) in Hamilton Gymnasium on Sunday, Nov 11, marking Denver’s second-straight victory and a fourth-straight home win.  Continue reading Pioneer Volleyball Stays Hot, Sweeps North Dakota State Bison At Home

UMD Punishes Pioneers, 5-2 in Game 2, takes 4 of 6 points in weekend series

74881475_2599323660106137_1481519604063797248_oThe perfect DU season start is now just a memory.

The top-ranked Denver Pioneers came swaggering into Duluth, Minn. with an 8-0 record, and left Amsoil Arena with a Friday tie and a Saturday loss, the latter game a bitter 5-2 loss in which DU was simply outplayed by the defending NCAA Champion Bulldogs.

The Pioneers looked strong in the first two periods, taking a 2-1 lead on a Jaakko Heikkinen goal at the 2:27 mark of the second, but after that, it was the Bulldogs who blew out the Pioneers, scoring four unanswered goals over the last 35 minutes for the victory.

Koby Bender evened the game at 2-2 with snipe at the 7:28 mark of the second, and then set up Luke Loheit a few minutes later for the game-winning goal.

The Bulldogs added a couple of insurance goals in the third period, including an empty netter.

Nick Tremaroli will have a full series recap tomorrow.

DU Men’s Soccer Wins Do-or-Die Game, 3-1 over Purdue Ft. Wayne Mastodons

EI-gIcMX0AARDuVThe assignment for Denver Pioneers men’s soccer was a very simple one – either win or tie at Purdue Fort Wayne in the final Summit League regular season game and DU would advance to the Summit League Tournament in Denver next weekend.  But if DU lost, the Denver season would be over and DU would be humiliated with a 5th place league finish (and four other Summit teams above them would play on their field in Denver next weekend). 

Fortunately for the Pioneers, they passed the test, whipping the Mastodons, 3-1, outshooting Purdue Fort Wayne 34-9, including 20-5 on goal.  The Denver victory also secured the Pioneers a three seed in the Summit Tournament next weekend.  Should Denver win the next two league tourney games on its home field, it can win the Summit League title and the accompanyng NCAA tourney autobid.

Denver was led by Junior Preston Judd (Henderson, Nev.) who scored twice inside the opening 21 minutes, and the Pioneers never looked back.

Judd’s multi-goal match was the fourth of his collegiate career and his first as a Pioneer, while sophomore centerback Callum Stretch (Los Angeles, Calif.) scored his first collegiate goal to help secure the vital twin for the Pioneers.

With the win, Crimson and Gold now will play in the 4 p.m. MT semifinal against either Western Illinois or Oral Roberts next Thursday.

The Pioneers were control for basically the entire 90 minutes, taking eight of the 10 corner kicks in the 90 minutes.

Denver opened the scoring in the ninth minute on a strike from over 30 yards from Judd, knocking the ball into an open net after getting the first touch to the ball in a battle with Purdue Fort Wayne’s centerback. After touching the ball by his defender, Judd looked up and saw the goalkeeper well out of his net before accurately passing the ball inside the far post to give Denver the lead.

Purdue Fort Wayne equalized in the 15th minute from the penalty spot as Nemanja Gvozdic put his spot kick into the back of the net to level the score at 1-1.

Stretch quickly put the Pioneers back in-front in the 20th minute, blasting a right-footed strike from outside of 30 yards into the upper-90 to restore Denver’s one-goal advantage — a goal that would be the game-winner.

Judd’s second doubled Denver’s advantage at 3-1 in the 21st minute, a curled effort from outside the box that was assisted by freshman Aidan O’Toole (The Hills, Texas) and sophomore winger Stefan DeLeone (Fort Collins, Colo.). O’Toole’s assist marked the first point of his collegiate career, while DeLeone earned his first helper of the campaign and the fourth of his two-year Pioneer career.

Denver’s second and third goal came just 1:42 apart, the 15th fastest consecutive goals in Denver’s Division I history. The WAC’s leader in goals a year ago, Judd, now has six goals in the 2019 campaign and 28 for his career.

The Pioneers will host the 2019 Summit League Men’s Soccer Championship next weekend. Third-seeded Denver will play in the second semifinal, scheduled to kickoff at 4 p.m. MT, against either Oral Roberts or Western Illinois. 


Lanzi Leads Denver Men to Upset Win Over Utah Valley, 74-62 in Home Opener

Joseph Lanzi’s (#10 in white) career-high 20 point performance led DU to victory. Photo: Jason Evans

DENVER –  Last year in Provo, Utah, the Utah Valley Wolverines smashed the Denver Pioneers by 23 points on the way to a blistering 25-10 season. This year, though, the return game was in Denver and the Pioneers were ready for the Wolverines, as DU rode sophomore Joseph Lanzi’s 20-point career-high performance to a 74-62 home opening victory at Magness Arena in a game that wasn’t as close as the 12-point margin of victory.

The Pioneers used platoons of players to stay fresh and won the bench point battle, 32-14, outscored UVU 43-34 in the paint, and went 7-for-10 in clutch three-point shooting (all in the second half) to pull away for a big home opening win at Magness Arena.

“I liked our ability to stay connected,” said DU coach Rodney Billups  after the game. “Our bench was energetic for the entire 40 minutes and that’s what we need to be good.”

DU improved to 1-1 on the young season while Utah Valley fell to 1-1.

Lanzi went 8-for-9 from the field, keying the Pioneer win, particularly in the second half, when DU needed some separation from the more experienced Wolverines. The Alabama native was a perfect 4-for-4 from beyond the 3 point arc, scoring three consecutive treys in the second half to break open a close game and fuel DU’s biggest rally of the day, an 11-point run in the second half that sealed the victory. Sophomore Jase Townsend chipped in 18 points and five rebounds and senior, Ade Murkey led the Pioneers on the glass with six rebounds to go along with three assists and nine points.

Ade Murkey’s (#0) senior leadership helped the Pioneers to victory. Photo: Jason Evans

“When we ran our sets, we got open looks,” said Lanzi of DU’s 48% shooting performance. “My teammates were able to find me in transition. We also made some defensive stops, and when we put those [two] together, it helped us win.”

The Wolverines were led by Brandon Averette who had a team-high 17 points.

Utah Valley came out strong and was able to hold the lead through the opening 10 minutes of play. Denver took over with 10:32 remaining in the half following a layup from David Nzekwesi. With two deadlocked scores at 22 and 26, the Pioneers used a 6-0 run to take a 32-26 lead. Consecutive layups from DU and a free throw as time expired, sent Denver into halftime holding a 39-30 advantage.

Utah Valley used six points early in the second half to cut the deficit to 41-37 and continued the momentum into a 5-0 run to tie things at 43. A Taelyr Gatlin three pointer and a jumper form Murkey helped re-establish the Pios lead at 51-50. Back-to-back triples from Lanzi propelled Denver to a seven point lead at 57-50 before the Crimson and Gold exploded for a 12-4 run to take a 69-55 lead with 2:44 remaining, driving them to a 74-62 victory.

The Pios will return to action in Logan, Utah on Tuesday to face their biggest test of the season so far against no. 19 Utah State (7 PM MT).

Thanks to Jason Evans for the photos and quotes in this story

Pioneer Women’s Soccer Loses Summit Title Game on Penalty Kicks, Season Over.

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South Dakota State upset top-seeded DU for the Summit Title and and the NCAA bid on penalty kicks, ending DU’s season in gut-wrenching fashion. Photo: Summit League

The Denver Pioneers Women’s Soccer season came to a grinding, gut-wrenching halt on the frozen prairie of Brookings, South Dakota, as the Pioneers blew a 1-0 halftime lead to the South Dakota State Jackrabbits. It was SDSU who equalized in the second half and then beat the Pioneers 4-2 in a penalty kick shootout to decide the Summit League Championship and the NCAA Tournament autobid that went to the winner.

Denver’s season is now over. The top-seeded (and favored) Pioneers’ (12-4-4, 7-0-1), season had started so promisingly with a 3-0 shutout of the 11th-ranked University of Texas Longhorns. And DU looked to be steamrolling down the stretch, undefeated in Summit League play and moving toward another Summit Title and NCAA berth this weekend.  Instead, they will likely take this defeat to their graves, as they watched the happy Jackrabbits celebrate their upset victory against the run of play at Fishback Soccer Park, their home field.

“I thought we just let that one get away a little bit in the second half,” DU head coach Jeff Hooker said in a massive understatement. “We dropped off a bit too much for my liking, but we were still fine. SDSU is good enough though, and if you make one mistake, they’ll make you pay. The (South Dakota State) goal was against the run of play, but [I] have to credit their ability to finish their chance.” Indeed, South Dakota State found that equalizer in the 58th minute through speedy and crafty Leah Manuleleua’s 11th goal of the season, South Dakota State’s best player.

DU Senior Hannah Adler (19) watches her shot into the South Dakota net for DU’s only goal of the game in the first half.  It was her last college goal, and the last goal of the Pioneers’ season. Photo: Summit League.

DU Senior Hannah Adler (Oak Park, Calif.) had scored the final goal of the DU season, in her last Pioneers game, in the first half, on a Sami Feller  36th-minute breakthrough. Feller played the ball into junior forward Macee Barlow (Las Vegas, Nev.) who had just entered the game, at the top of the 18. Barlow turned and slipped in Adler, who took a touch further to her right and cut her strike back across the goal and inside the near post. Barlow’s assist was her second of the season and the third of her career. The goal for Adler was her fifth of the season and the 25th and last of her Pioneer career.

Denver controlled most of the play following the Jackrabbits equalizer. Senior outside back Mary DeWalt (West Bend, Wis.) had a similar chance in the 90th minute to her game-winner on Senior Sunday six days ago at the University of Denver Soccer Stadium, but a rough bounce off a poor surface came up the outside back’s foot and sailed over the bar. The Pioneers controlled play in the overtime session as well, but weren’t able to find the winner, sending the match to penalty kicks.

Denver’s two penalty kick takers from the regular season both converted in Natalie Beckman (Denver, Colo.) and freshman midfielder Kaitlyn Glover (Englewood, Colo.), but SDSU converted on four of its five attempts to send the home side to the 2019 NCAA Tournament.

DU had five seniors play their final college game – Adler, goalie Brittany Wilson, defender  Cheyenne Shorts, defender Heather Turcios, and defender Mary DeWalt.

Denver Volleyball Sweeps North Dakota, 3-0, for eighth win in last nine matches

Tina Boe (13) was part of a six block team effort to help lead the Pioneers over North Dakota in three straight sets on Friday night. Photo: Jason Evans

DENVER – The University of Denver women’s volleyball team swept the pesky North Dakota Fighting Hawks in a Summit League Volleyball match, 25-17, 27-25, and 25-15 on Friday night Nov. 8 before 254 fans at Hamilton Gym. The Pioneers have now won eight of their last nine matches, as the regular season heads toward the final three matches.

“I’m feeling really good,” said DU coach Tom Hogan postgame, about his DU team as the season moves toward completion. “We’re in a really good place…We have most of the last couple weeks [of the season playing] at home. It’s about us taking care of ourselves physically and mentally so we can go [toward the conference tournament] with fresh bodies and fresh minds.”

DU executed a .264 attack percentage as a key to victory over UND. Lydia Bartalo had a team=high 10 kills with a .476 hitting percentage to lead the Pios. Denver also had six blocks, led by Bartalo and Tina Boe.

“This year we’re getting better toward the end of season,” said DU junior setter Ellie Anderson. “In past years, we were better in the beginning of the season, so this year, I think it’s really good for us [to be peaking].”

The DU victory was the Pioneers’ 10th sweep in 2019,  improving them to 18-7 overall and 10-3 in Summit League play. UND fell to 11-16 overall and 3-10 in Summit League play.

DU next plays on Sunday vs North Dakota State (1 PM MT).

Our thanks to Jason Evans for the quotes and photo.

70 Years of DU Hockey History Part II: A Temporary Decline – 1970-1994

Our own Puck Swami has authored a four-part historical retrospective for the 70th anniversary of the DU Hockey program. This is Part II. Part One can be found here, and Parts III and IV will follow in the coming weeks. While these stories will run far longer than our usual stories, remember that 70 years is a lot to cover. Enjoy!

Given DU hockey’s successes in the program’s first 20 years, there was no reason to believe that the Pioneer hockey program was about to enter a 35-year period with no NCAA titles. After all, there was plenty of talent in the pipeline. In the early 1970s, DU leveraged its 1960s dominance to attract a number of star players who would move on the NHL — George Morrison, Peter McNab, Bruce Affleck, Rob Palmer, Mike Busniuk, Rich Preston, Mike Christie, Mike Lampman, Vic Venasky and Ron Grahame would all wear the Crimson and Gold in the early-to-mid 70s before moving on to the highest level. Continue reading 70 Years of DU Hockey History Part II: A Temporary Decline – 1970-1994