The Denver Pioneers hockey roster continues to change, as rising junior forward Emilio Pettersen has left DU to sign an entry level contract with the Calgary Flames, while fellow rising junior Tyler Ward is transferring from DU to the University of New Hampshire, where he will need to sit out a year. According to the Grand Forks Herald, DU will help mitigate these losses as the beneficiary of two incoming graduate transfers with immediate eligibility join the DU team next season in- all-WCHA forward Steven Jandric of Alaska-Fairbanks and defenseman Bo Hanson from St. Lawrence University of the ECAC. While DU has yet to publicly announce the two transfers, both transfers were confirmed to LetsGoDU last week. Continue reading Pettersen and Ward Leaving Pioneers, Jandric and Hanson Transferring In
It was epic, heart-wrenching and at the same time, prideful.
The eighth and final-seeded Denver Pioneers Men’s Basketball Team, playing with just one upperclassman in the lineup for most of the season, saved their very best team effort for their last game, as the Pioneers took top-seed North Dakota State into the final seconds before dropping a thrilling 71-69 heartbreaker in the opening round of the Summit League Tournament at the Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls, S.D.
Denver sophomore and top shooter Jase Townsend, who had tied the game up at 69-69 with 25 seconds remaining, had a chance to win or tie the game again in the final six seconds with the score 71-69, NDSU. However, instead of shooting a three-point attempt for the win, he elected (or perhaps was instructed) to drive to the basket instead for a two-point shot to tie, drawing contact from the Bison, but not a foul call, as his layup attempt fell just wide at the buzzer, ending the game (and DU’s season) at a record of 7-24.
North Dakota State, 23-8 and 11.5-point favorites against DU, escaped to the tournament semi-finals on Monday Night. NDSU Senior Vinnie Shahid, who is DU Senior Ade Murkey’s former AAU teammate and close friend from Minneapolis, led the Bison with 22 points, including a huge three pointer and a pair of foul shots in the final minute to seal the win for the Bison.
The Pioneers, who shot 50% from the field in the game, outscored the Bison 39-35 in the second half. DU, who had won two of their last three games just to get to the last Summit League Tourney slot in Sioux Falls and escape last place, played their total hearts out. DU’S three best players, Ade Murkey, Jase Townsend and Robert Jones led the Pioneers with excellent performances with their season on the line.
Murkey, a senior and the heart-and-soul of the Pioneers finished with 17 points, 13 rebounds and 4 assists in his final game in Crimson and Gold, before fouling out in tears in the final seconds. North Dakota State coach Dave Richman called Murkey a “warrior” after the game on television, and complimented the Pioneers profusely on the near-upset.
Townsend, who put the Pios on his back down the stretch, scored 16 of his 20 points in the second half.
Jones, the 6-10 freshman big man, had a career-high 21 points to lead Denver in scoring on the night, with all of the points coming in the paint.
The Pioneers used solid shooting and strong defense to hold NDSU to just 39% shooting.
Indeed, the Pioneers, without their band or cheerleaders in Sioux Falls, were ‘adopted’ and cheered on by thousands of South Dakota State fans, who had arrived early for their tournament game following Denver and NDSU.
The teams traded baskets early, but it looked like NDSU might pull away after a Jaxon Knotek dunk midway through the first half. Knotek’s slam fired up the Bison crowd and gave NDSU an 18-12 lead. It didn’t last though, as the Pioneers scored the next four points.
It then looked like the Pioneers might make a run when DU freshman Robert Jones and-1 dunk at 7:13 mark tied the game at 20, but he missed the free throw and NDSU scored the next five points. Denver did get back to within one, but the Bison scored the final five points of the half to take a 36-30 lead into the locker room.
Vinnie Shahid buried a second-chance three-pointer four minutes into the second half to put the Bison up 44-36, their largest lead of the game to that point. After a stop at the other end, the all-league first-teamer hit a layup to push the lead to 46-36, which drew a timeout from the Denver bench.
NDSU was threatening to pull away again, but Denver’s Jase Townsend went on a 7-0 run midway through the frame to tie the game at 49-all, part of a 16-3 stretch by Denver that ended with the Pioneers up 58-52 with 8:33 on the clock.
The Pioneers held onto that lead until a Shahid triple put the Bison up 67-65 with 1:22 on the clock. Denver tied the game twice after that, but could never regain the lead. Shahid got fouled on a drive with six seconds left and hit both foul shots to secure the win.
Shahid led all players in the game and three Bison in double figures with 22 points. Tyson Ward added 20 points and Sam Griesel collected 10 points to go along with a career-high 13 rebounds.
Thus an otherwise horrible 7-24 DU season is over, but anyone watching the game had to admire the performance DU put in against a veteran Bison team. DU should return a nucleus of more experienced players next season, as only Murkey graduates.
What a difference a week makes at Barton Stadium.
Last Saturday, the Pioneers went toe-to-toe with a storied Duke program, losing 15-13.
This Saturday, before another sellout crowd of 2,000+ at Barton Stadium, Denver faced the St. Bonaventure Bonnies from New York State, representing the polar opposite side of the D-I college lacrosse spectrum — a second-year program that has yet to win a single D-I lacrosse game. The #13th-ranked Pioneers made sure it stayed that way, cruising to a 16-3 beat-down of the Bonnies behind the balanced scoring of 13 players at DU’s Barton Stadium on Feb. 22 in the annual Face-Off Classic.
The Pios, wearing black uniforms, jumped out to 5-1 lead in the first period, extended it to 10-1 at halftime, and throttled back a bit in the second half with a big lead, dominating the face-off X, winning 20 out of 23 face-offs — Alec Stathakis’ won 14 of 16, while John Boos won 6 of 7 for Denver. The Bonnies tried four different players at X to stop Stathakis and Boos, but could only win 3 of 23 faceoffs on the day. DU also won the ground ball battle, 39-19.
Freshman attackman J.J. Sillstrop led the way for the Pioneers with a 3-goal hat trick (the second such feat for the Californian in his three college games so far), Drew Erickson added two goals for DU and the Pioneers got single-goal scoring from 10 other players. The Pioneers were able to play much of the roster in the rout, with three different DU goalies getting playing time in the contest. DU played mostly reserve players in the entire fourth quarter en-route to the win.
And it certainly could have been a lot worse for the Bonnies, were it not for the heroics of SBU goalie Brett Dobson, who had an outstanding 18 saves in the contest on 34 DU shots on goal. SBU could only manage two shots on goal in the first half against DU’s best players, and finished with just eight total shots on the afternoon. Matthew DeGirolamo had two of SBU’s three markers to pace the Bonnies.
Denver moved to 2-1 on the young season. The Bonnies, who went 0-13 last year as a brand new lacrosse program, and were 0-2 coming into Denver’s Face Off Classic, fell to 0-3 this year and remain looking for the program’s first victory.
The Pios will next face the Cleveland State Vikings tomorrow (Sunday) at 4:30 PM MT in the finale of the Face-Off Classic.
Our own Puck Swami takes a look back through DU’s rich sports history to the eight times DU men’s basketball played at New York City’s Madison Square Garden in this two-part flashback series. In the first part (here), he covered the first four DU appearances between 1947 and 1959, while in this second part (below) he covers the second four MSG appearances, which occurred between 1959 and 1966.
Photo: The old Madison Square Garden (1925-1968) in New York City, seen here in 1932 taking up most of a city block, hosted the DU Pioneers Basketball team eight times between 1947 and 1966.
Our own Puck Swami takes a look back through DU’s rich sports history to the eight times DU men’s basketball played at New York City’s Madison Square Garden between 1947 and 1966 in this first of a two-part flashback series, which covers DU’s first four appearances in New York City.
While DU basketball is known today mostly on the basketball courts of Denver, and around the Summit League, there was once a time when the DU Pioneers were a New York City attraction, playing eight times at the legendary old Madison Square Garden in New York City in the 19-year span between 1947 and 1966. Continue reading Pioneer Flashback: When DU Basketball Was a Regular at Madison Square Garden (Part I)
Photo: Rodney Billups. DU coach Rodney Billups is in year four of his five year contract. Photo: University of Denver
“It’s not working”
“It’s been four years – DU’s record is getting worse each year”
“He’s in over his head”
“High school programs draw more fans”
We’ve all heard all these complaints before, and all of these statements have an element of truth to them. And, we continue to want to hear your voices – even if you may disagree with us. Continue reading Puck Swami: Defending Rodney Billups
Denver star defenseman Ian Mitchell scored one of the most memorable goals of his Pioneer career on a short-handed, unassisted breakaway — a decisive game-winning goal at 7:16 the third period, as the Denver Pioneers blew open a tight game in third period and cruised to 6-3 NCHC win over St. Cloud State University to delight the nearly 6,000 fans at Magness Arena in Denver. Continue reading Denver Pioneers Blow-Out St. Cloud St. Huskies in Series Opener, 6-3
DENVER – Senior Ade Murkey pumped-in a season-high 26 points, and sophomore Jase Townsend added 23 points for the Denver Pioneers, but it wasn’t quite enough for a win, as the Air Force Falcons clipped the Denver Pioneers, 79-75 before 1,170 fans at Magness Arena on Saturday, December 14th. The loss dropped the Pioneers to 4-8 on the year and improved the Falcons to 5-6. Continue reading Pioneer Basketball Comeback Falls Just Short as Air Force Beats Denver, 79-75
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
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