Pioneers and RedHawks tie again in gritty affair

Photo courtesy DU Athletics

For the second time in as many nights, the #1 University of Denver Pioneers and the Miami University RedHawks tied at Magness Arena. With a victory in the shootout, the Pioneers once again earn the extra point for the NCHC standings. Continue reading Pioneers and RedHawks tie again in gritty affair

Denver draws overtime tie with Miami Ohio

Missed opportunities led the University of Denver Pioneers and the Miami University (Ohio) Redhawks to skate to a 1-1 overtime tie. The No. 1 ranked Pioneers returned to Magness Arena after rolling on an eight game win streak. Denver (7-2-2, 3-0-2) finished the game with a shootout conversion made by freshman forward Henrik Borgstrom following scoreless 5-on-5 and 3-on-3 overtime periods.

The Pioneers ran various line variations throughout the game dominating possession, but failed to convert. Denver held a 37-20 shot edge over Miami through the first overtime. After hitting the post consecutively and missing open chances, Miami’s goaltender Ryan Larkin held off the Pioneers from clinching the victory.

When questioning coach Montgomery on his decision for sending Borgstrom to take the shootout, while Anaheim Ducks prospect Troy Terry had exhibited a stellar performance tallying Denver sole goal, Montgomery said, “He [Borgstrom] knows what he’s doing with the puck. I did think about Troy Terry because he had such a great game and scored our goal. But Henrik, in practice, when he gets a breakaway; every time is a goal.”

Miami took control early on, 1:59 into the first period, sophomore defenseman Grant Hutton sniped his shot in transition bar-down to deliver 1-0 lead for the Redhawks. Miami amplified its intensity following the goal, maintaining possession for the majority of the period.

The Pioneers eventually adjusted to their opponent’s pressure and rallied in the final minutes. Freshman forward Kevin Conley replaced Colin Staub on the top line, alongside Henrik Borgstrom and Dylan Gambrell, delivering an energetic offense. Denver finished the opening frame with a 15-3 shots on goal edge over Miami.

The Pioneers opened up the second period with an equalizer from Terry. Terry intercepted a pass between Redhawks defensemen to beat Larkin in the five-hole, tying the game one apiece.

The remaining period saw even play from both teams. The Pioneers continued pressuring Miami’s net.

Towards the end of regulation, Montgomery aligned sophomore forwards Jarid Lukosevicius, Gambrell and Terry together. Gambrell missed an open opportunity after toe-dragging past his defenseman low in the slot. Lukosevicius tested Larkin with two wrist-shots in transition. Paired with Borgstrom and Conley, Staub attempted two wraparound chances, but was knocked off the puck and Larkin held off the Pioneers.

“We just couldn’t hunker down and finish our chances. That’s something we’ve got to focus on tomorrow,” Terry said. “Just play the way we did, capitalize and get to the net better tomorrow.”

Denver returns for the second game of the NCHC series against the Redhawks tomorrow at 7 p.m. in Magness Arena.

Game Notes:

-Denver ascended to No. 1 in the top college hockey rankings for the first time since March 15, 2010.

-Current leading goal scorer Henrik Borgstrom has amassed all twelve of his points (7G-5A) in the 2016-17 season during DU’s now nine-game unbeaten streak.

-Junior goaltender Tanner Jaillet currently leads the conference in all major goaltending categories.   

-Evan Ritt replaced Emil Romig in the lineup after Romig suffered a lower body injury last weekend against North Dakota.

Pio Soccer will face UNLV in NCAA Tournament in Denver, Sunday at 5pm

12259797UNLV’s Oscar Velazquez had the game winning PK for UNLV in the Eighth Round. Photo Credit: UNLV

The Pioneer Soccer team learned its opponent for Sunday’s Second Round NCAA Men’s Soccer Game – The UNLV Rebels.

UNLV advanced over host San Diego State in the first round game Thursday on the basis of 6-5 penalty kick advantage after eight rounds of PKs finally produced a winner, following a 1-1 OT tie at SDSU’s Sports Deck. UNLV will meet at sixth-overall national seed DU on Sunday at 5 pm (MT) at Ciber Field at DU.

UNLV has a losing record of 10-11-2 on the season, but had advanced to the NCAA tournament by winning the WAC tournament auto bid over Air Force, 2-1. The Rebels moved their unbeaten streak to five games to improve to 10-11-2 on the year, while SDSU saw its season end at 9-4-6.

The Pioneer coaches scouted the SDSU/UNLV game in San Diego.

Pios Beat San Jose State, 74-69, for Rodney Billups’ first career victory


The Pioneers gave coach Rodney Billups the game ball after his first win as a college head coach. Photo: University of Denver

The Denver Pioneers shot an excellent 56% on the road, and including a blistering 9 for 10 from the field in the final ten minutes of the game to hold off a determined San Jose State Spartan team at the San Jose (Calif.) Events Center, 74-69.  The win, which was close for the duration, was Rodney Billups’ first career win as the Pioneers’ head coach. The victory was clinched by a pair of Thomas Neff free throws in the final two seconds, as SJSU had cut the DU lead to three points with 1:13 left.

Denver leveled its season record at 1-1, while SJSU from the Mountain West Conference, fell to 1-2 on the young season.

While the Pioneers blew out San Jose in shooting percentage (56% to 40%) and rebounding (36-26), the game was close all the way (never more than a eight point differential either way) due to the Pioneers’ propensity to give up turnovers, as DU gave away 21 balls, while the Spartans only gave away 13 on the night. For a Pioneer team learning to play a fast, new style of basketball this year, turnovers will likely be a part of the Pioneers’ identity for the foreseeable future as the players adjust to the new style.

Super Sophomore Joe Rosga led the Pioneers with 15 points, 11 of which came in the second half.  The Pios were also able to get a clutch bench performance from redshirt junior Duke Douglas, who had a career high 12 points, including 5-5 from the field, a dunk with 6:40 left which sent the Pioneers on the clutch shooting tear down the stretch, and a big steal in the final moments. Junior Jake Pemberton helped steady the backcourt with a solid 10-point outing, and Australian Abiola Akintola chipped in with six points in his first-ever Pioneer action.

DU’s Christian Mackey had the go-ahead basket for DU with 8:17 left in the game and had a total of six points filling the lane when starting center Daniel Amigo (7 points) ran into foul trouble and had to sit for large chunks of the game. Jake Krafka (4 points) and Brad George (2 points) also cracked the scoresheet for the Pios for the first time in their careers.

The Pioneers return from California to face Utah Valley University of the WAC on Wednesday,  Nov. 23 at Magness Arena.

Versatile Elvin Rodriguez Joins 2017 Denver Pioneers Men’s Hoops

Photo: Elvin Rodriguez Jr. comes from the Bronx to the Mile High City

A second 2017 DU hoops recruit made a verbal commitment (VC) to Denver last week. High school senior Elvin Rodriguez had been receiving increased interest  – so the Pioneers pounced. Elvin is expected to play the off guard/shooting guard. He can score the ball from inside or outside. He joins Elijah Blake, another incoming athletic guard who is likely to play the point for Denver. Shortly after signing with Denver, Elijah recently injured his ACL and will miss his senior season – LetsGoDU wishes Elijah the best! Both players show athleticism, similar to that of Ade Murkey, so a playing style profile is emerging of versatile, athletic, and explosive players coming to Denver. Continue reading Versatile Elvin Rodriguez Joins 2017 Denver Pioneers Men’s Hoops

PUCK SWAMI: This is the Golden Age of Denver Pioneer Sports — Right Now!

1911-murad-cardUniversity of Denver Murad College Series trading card, circa 1909 – from the personal collection of Puck Swami

Ponder this:

DU Hockey is unbeaten in its last eight games and just ascended to #1 in the country for the first time since 2010, coming off an NCAA Frozen Four berth in 2016.

DU Men’s Soccer is regular-season unbeaten for two years, something that hasn’t been done in D-I soccer in nearly 40 years by any team.  The Pios are now ranked in the top 5 in the country and start NCAA tournament play at home this weekend as the sixth overall seed out of the 48 teams in the tourney (and over 200 D-I teams overall playing the sport).

DU Men’s Lacrosse, coached by the greatest lacrosse coach of all time, starts up in a couple of months and will ranked as a top 5 team in the country.  Duke, North Carolina and Notre Dame are all coming to Denver this year for the greatest home schedule in DU History, all bathing in the afterglow of the 2015 NCAA Championship season.

DU Skiing starts up soon  — as the defending NCAA Champion for the 23rd time in history and THE dominant program in the history of the sport at the college level.

I could go on and on with even more excellent current DU sports, more hardware accomplishments and more national rankings, but for a little school in the Rockies with 5,500 undergrads that only restored all sports to Division I less than 20 years ago, we’re doing pretty damn well, thank you very much. In fact, in the 150 plus years that DU’s been around, our sports program, taken as a whole, HAS NEVER BEEN BETTER.

For those of us old farts who have been following Pioneer sports for 30 years or more, this is a very unique moment in time that is nothing short of an incredible, astonishing achievement.  We can remember well the dingy days of the 1980s — when our school was $12 million in debt, deferred maintenance topped $40 million, and DU was in danger of going under. Our campus was a muddy mess with no names on the buildings. Many of our DU teams of that era competed in obscurity against NAIA schools you’ve never heard of, playing on patchy fields and in 40 year old WWII surplus buildings that were once condemned. The very suggestion of being NCAA Division I in all sports would get you laughed at back then, rather than admired, as it is today.

Today, our campus sparkles amid gorgeous facilities, and we’re not only D-I in all sports, but DU is the best D-I school without football in the country for years now, and we’re punching so far above our weight as an athletic power that it boggles the mind. Our athletes also graduate at a higher rate than the entire student body (90%), have a higher GPA (3.3) than the all-student average, and (knock on wood) avoid the police blotter, too.

The point here is that we can’t take all this for granted, folks…

There may come a time (perhaps too soon) when the big football schools with the big budgets move on from playing ‘mid-majors’ like us.  Or when financial pressures may someday limit DU’s athletic ambitions. Or when people stop coming to college sports events because there are just too many other things competing for people’s time and attention, which I already covered in another column here.

It’s time we get out to watch these great DU teams now, while we can ALL enjoy this Golden Age of DU Sports…and bring everyone you know!

Puck Swami is the Internet moniker of a long-time DU fan and alumnus. He shares his views periodically here at 

#6 Denver to Play NCAA Second Round @ CIBER Field Sunday

Photo: Compliments of twitterDenver M Soccer@DU_MSoccer. Players watch party at Snarf’s on Evans Avenue.

The University of Denver, one of two undefeated team in this year’s NCAA Soccer Tournament, is slated to play Sunday at 5:00 MT at CIBER Field against the winner of the UNLV vs. San Diego State first-round match. The #1 seed, Maryland, is 18-0-2.

Early forecast calls for partly cloudy with mid-sixties during the day dropping to 40 at night.

Continue reading #6 Denver to Play NCAA Second Round @ CIBER Field Sunday

Clutch Volleyball Win Secures Summit League Title

Sunday afternoon, Denver volleyball (20-7 overall, 13-3 Summit League) traveled to North Dakota State University in Fargo, North Dakota with the regular season title on the line. After falling to South Dakota (13-3) in Vermillion, South Dakota on Friday night (25-18, 24-26, 25-23, 21-25 and 15-13) , the Pioneers had to win Sunday to secure a share of the regular season title.

Continue reading Clutch Volleyball Win Secures Summit League Title

Pioneers ride rock-solid defense to take 4 points in Grand Forks

Photo Credit: Reinhold Matay, USA TODAY Sports

The #2 University of Denver Pioneers only scored 4 goals over the course of their two games at The Ralph this weekend, but those 4 goals were just enough to take four of the six possible points from the #6 North Dakota Fighting Hawks. With a 2-1 loss in 3-on-3 overtime Friday night, which will go down as a tie for NCAA purposes, and a 3-2 victory on Saturday, the Pioneers come home feeling good about where they are at this early juncture of the season. Continue reading Pioneers ride rock-solid defense to take 4 points in Grand Forks

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