Photo courtesy of NCHC.tv
Denver travels to Grand Forks this weekend for a series with the North Dakota Fighting Hawks
The Denver Pioneers had a week off to prepare for their series with the North Dakota Fighting Hawks, but you never know what you’re going to get when these teams collide. Last season when Denver played in Grand Forks, both games were settled in overtime ties. And as tight as the NCHC is again this season, both teams could be closely matched again. The Pioneers will have to brave the cold as there’s a high temperature of 22 degrees on Friday in Grand Forks.
Denver is entering a stretch in their schedule where they will not play at Magness Arena again until January 11th when they host Omaha. After this series, they will face Merrimack, UMass Lowell, and Wisconsin on the road which will conclude their non-conference opponents for the season. Continue reading Denver hockey series preview: North Dakota
A photo published by the Grand Forks Herald has put the University of North Dakota in hot water. An alert reader examined a published photo (above) of a corridor in Ralph Engelstad Arena. Closer examination showed a poster on the door leading into the UND hockey locker room. The poster states, “Beat DU or…we will paddle this pup” with a picture of a distraught dog. The alert reader sent a copy of the poster to the Grand Forks ASPCA and the Grand Forks Herald. Continue reading North Dakota series goes to the dogs
As Denver Pioneer fans, we’re lucky that we can pop our attention from one successful DU sports program to another. All three fall DU sports (men’s and women’s soccer plus women’s volleyball) earned appearances in their respective NCAA Tournaments this fall. And DU hockey is now ranked seventh in the nation on this bye week, more successful than almost anyone thought they’d be at this point in the season with a young team. Which brings me to the next DU team worthy of more of our attention, the DU women’s basketball team, who have shot out to a 6-1 start to the season and a current national top 40 RPI (#39) ranking, including a current four-game winning streak, as of Sunday, Dec. 2. (Note: Early season RPI rankings are subject to volatile swings, as game data comparisons are still somewhat paltry.)
I would venture a guess that perhaps only 10 percent of our readership here at LetsGoDU have ever been to a live DU women’s basketball game before, and it’s hard to blame them. There is a lot to do in Denver, and the DU women’s basketball teams have been pretty terrible in recent memory, known more for single-digit win/last-place seasons, a fired coach and crowds comprised mostly of friends and family members. Apart from a surprise 2001 NCAA appearance in the early years of the Ritchie Center and a period of decent mediocrity (72-52) under former coach Erik Johnson from 2008-2012, there hasn’t been a lot to cheer about with DU women’s hoops in the last 20 years.
But this year’s DU women’s team is starting to change some of that…
The Pioneers are starting to get noticed in just the second year of the Jim Turgeon coaching era, with home wins over then-#16 RPI Lamar and the latest win, a 29-point win over Loyola Marymount, a top 100 team who had already beaten UCLA and Arizona this year. Moreover, the Pioneers are a very high-scoring bunch, averaging a stunning 90 points per game to date this season, and sport a victory margin of 16 points per game.
And Turgeon, who came to DU from CSU-Pueblo in NCAA Division II two years ago, is doing all this with many of former DU coach Kerry Cremeans’ recruits, who knew only college basketball failure before Turgeon’s arrival. Moreover, he’s done it with a wholly different philosophy of team speed, running the floor at altitude and sharing the ball, instead of Cremeans’ over-reliance on feeding key players, a coaching practice that reportedly lost the locker room and brought an end to her losing tenure at DU. This year, DU has five players averaging double-digit scoring per game, a depth which makes it harder for opponents to key on any one player, and also makes for a much happier DU locker room.
DU’s high scoring attack has been led by Lauren Loven, a junior holdover recruit from Cremeans, who is now flourishing in the ball-sharing Turgeon era, leading the entire nation in made three-pointers (30 in six games through Nov. 30), and is averaging 21 points per game overall to lead the Pioneers in scoring. Additionally, fellow Junior Madison Nelson has exploded recently, with a 20-rebound performance against Lamar and pumping in 28 points in the win over Loyola Marymount. But it’s not just upperclassmen.
Hard-working associate head coach and recruiting coordinator Kayla Ard and the rest of Turgeon’s Denver staff have also brought in some freshmen who are stepping up right away, including Sydney Mech, a local swing player out of Cherry Creek High School who can play either forward or guard, and who is shooting a scorching 50% from the field, averaging 10 points per game. Additionally, talented freshman guard Tsimba Malonga from the Chicago area, who has averaged over 20 minutes per game in the last two games, is being rewarded with more playing time as her contributions increase.
While the 6-1 early record is outstanding, it has been created with a lot of home games, and we’ll soon see what the Pioneers are really made of in the coming weeks. DU is preparing to go on the road for seven of its next eight games, including visits to Wyoming, the University of Nebraska and Colorado State, before heading into the teeth of Summit League play, where top level programs South Dakota and South Dakota State are projected to lead the Summit League.
The #7 Denver Pioneers won and tied against the #9 Providence College Friars this weekend. It was easy to see a lot of growth from the Pioneers as secondary scorers made their presence felt both nights and despite a banner performance from referee Timm Walsh, the Pioneers played fairly well-disciplined hockey. It was an encouraging weekend on the whole in the last weekend of hockey at Magness Arena until 2019. With a trip to North Dakota looming in two weeks, Chris Bayee of Magness Mayhem and I assess where the Pioneers are and the kind of growth that they’ve experienced over the course of the past three weeks of the “gauntlet.”
Episode 3 of the Crimson & Gold Show is just below: Continue reading Crimson & Gold Show: Episode 3
Photo courtesy Shannon Valerio/DU Athletics
DENVER – After an offseason-plus of anticipation and consternation surrounding DU’s goaltending situation, the #7 Denver Pioneers finally have three healthy goalies as highly touted freshman Filip Larsson made his collegiate debut against the #9 Providence College Friars. A night after Devin Cooley limited the Friars to just one goal on 40 shots, Larsson kept the Pioneers in the game as the Pioneers and Friars tied 4-4 at Magness Arena.
Larsson looked at times like he never missed a game and at others, he looked like a goalie making his season debut at the end of November. Though DU’s defense didn’t do him many favors throughout the first two periods with poor defensive zone play that led to numerous Providence scoring chances. Continue reading Filip Larsson makes NCAA debut in barnburner tie against Providence
Photo: Courtesy Kelly O’Connor
Following last weekend’s Minnesota-Duluth series, the Pioneers (7-3-1, 3-3-0-0) had every reason to collapse when the Providence Friars (7-4-1, 4-2-0) tied the game 1-1 in the third period. With the visitors enjoying a significant face-off advantage, shots-on-goal, and penalty-minutes-served advantage, Denver overcame it all and responded with flying colors with two opportunistic goals in the third period to win, 3-1. And, again, Devin Cooley was a rock in goal for the Pioneers with 39 saves. Continue reading Resilient Pioneers Top Friars, 3-1
The #7 Denver Pioneers were swept last weekend by the #2 St. Cloud State Huskies before coming home and splitting with the top-ranked Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs. There was a lot to unpack from both series as this was likely the Pioneers’ toughest two week stretch of the season. Chris Bayee of Magness Mayhem and I did our best to dissect and understand everything we saw from the past two weeks. Please note that Denver’s record right now is 6-3-1, not 7-2-2. The box score that we were looking at from last night’s game had Denver’s record incorrectly shown. Apologies for the confusion.
Episode 2 of the Crimson & Gold Show is below:
DENVER – A night after shutting out the top-ranked Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs, the #7 Denver Pioneers blew a third-period 3-0 lead to lose 4-3 in overtime at Magness Arena. Scott Perunovich scored with 1.8 seconds left to tie the game at 3 and force overtime before Cole Koepke scored 52 seconds into overtime to stun the Pioneers and complete the UMD comeback. Continue reading Pioneers blow three-goal lead, split weekend series with top-ranked Bulldogs