While not all of DU’s teams have announced their 2018-2019 schedules yet, we know just enough to start planning potential road trips to see our beloved Pioneers play in some of America’s most iconic destinations. If you’ve never travelled to see the Pioneers play, you are missing out on some amazing experiences. There is a special “us against the world” feeling that comes from watching DU on the road as Pio fan, and when the team gets a road win, it can feel even more special than a home win, because the team just needs you more on the road. Here are some possibilities to help get you started, with DU men’s hockey, basketball, soccer and lacrosse road trips, in alphabetical order by area:
Sports scheduling for the Denver Pioneers, in all sports, is often an elusive and frustrating exercise.
Being located in Denver is the largest problem, as playing here requires plane rides and hotel stays for all but a handful of DU’s D-I opponents, which is tough for non-revenue sports. We don’t have the exact figures, but it’s probably a safe bet that about 85% of DU’s opponents must fly here to play us, and likewise, DU needs to fly its own mostly non-revenue sports teams to 85% of its opponents — a dynamic that puts a lot of pressure on athletic budgets and eliminates many opponents for cost reasons.
Then there is the mile-high altitude here, a factor that still scares a number of opposing coaches from flatter places. For example, in 2004, the University of Virginia men’s lacrosse team, ranked #1 nationally at the time, came out here to play both DU and Air Force, and lost both games. The Cavaliers’ coach publicly blamed the altitude for their stumbles, and the Cavaliers have not appeared on the DU home schedule since then. Who knows how many other opposing coaches privately loathe our altitude? Continue reading Puck Swami: DU and the Elusive Art of Sports Scheduling in Denver
In what may a be a turning point of the season, the #5-6 University of Denver lacrosse team shook off a very sluggish start and scored nine unanswered goals to blast the #18-19 Ohio State Buckeyes, 12-7, before a sellout crowd of 2,607 at Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium on a sunny St. Patrick’s Day afternoon. The win was a measure of revenge for the Pios, who lost to OSU last year, 16-7 in Columbus, Ohio. Continue reading Pioneers’ Second-Half Rally Destroys the Ohio State Buckeyes, 12-7
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.
Photo courtesy John Leyba, The Denver Post
The NCAA must have been sweating it out last year experimenting with Chicago as a first-time destination for the Frozen Four. The Windy City does not have any Division I hockey programs, and strangely neither does the rest of the state of Illinois despite a large number of top college players coming from that area. Yet the NCAA rolled the dice on a major city that has recently gone hockey-crazy because of their Blackhawks. Continue reading Denver Hockey Series Preview: University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish
DU’s incredible 2016-2017 run in athletics continues with lacrosse.
After throttling Notre Dame, 16-4, the Pioneers advance to the NCAA lacrosse semifinals against #1 seed Maryland on Saturday at 12:30 pm MT @ Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA. The winner will advance on Monday, May 29th to face the winner of the Towson – Ohio State game @ 11:00 MT. The game also features a showdown between Tewaaraton Award favorites Trevor Baptist and Matt Rambo. Continue reading Details for Boston Lax Championship Emerge
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).
The two universities founded by John Evans, Northwestern University and the University of Denver, have never made it to the NCAA basketball tournament. It has been 78 years for the Wildcats (20-7, 9-5 Big 10), the longest drought of any major conference basketball program. Members of the original 120 Division I teams to never make the NCAA tournament include Army, The Citadel, St. Francis (NY), William & Mary, and of course Northwestern. Denver’s futility is somewhat softened because the Pioneers were a Division II program from 1979 to 1998. Denver has whiffed all 59 years, though. Continue reading Evans Curse may be coming to an end
Last week, College Hockey News (CHN) reported that the Big Ten proposed a piece of legislation to the NCAA to change a key recruiting regulation governing college hockey. This new rule, if passed, would lower the age limit of incoming hockey recruits from 21 to 20 and anyone enrolling after age 20 would lose one year of eligibility for each year. In other words, a 21-year old incoming freshman would only have 3 years of eligibility, a 22 year old would have 2 years of eligibility, and so on. Essentially, every player on a given roster would be required to be 24 years old or younger. Continue reading Big Ten Doing Its Best to Ruin College Hockey