Season Preview: University of Denver Pioneers Hockey

You’d assume beginning the season ranked primary would imply the one position to head used to be, neatly, down. But fifth-year head trainer David Carle would say you have been incorrect.

His Pioneers, reigning nationwide champions, are sooner than closing yr and expectancies are even upper, he says. “We have nine new guys, and that gives this team a unique identity,” Carle mentioned prior to the Pios’ season-starting fit in opposition to Notre Dame closing Friday (a 5–2 victory within the Ice Breaker Tournament). “We have last year’s experience to lean on, plus new players and new perspectives. We’re staying present.”

University of Denver closed closing yr’s marketing campaign with an excellent 31–9–1 file, the winningest season for a Division I hockey program since 2017, when then head trainer Jim Montgomery led the Pioneers to a 33–7–4 file and the natty. It used to be this system’s 9th general championship, tying it with the University of Michigan as the rustic’s all-time winningest faculty.

Carle, 32, seems to be to wreck the tie this season as his Pioneers gun for his or her tenth championship.

3 Ice-Cold Questions

Skaters on the University of Denver Pioneers ice hockey team wear crimson and gold; they are skating toward their bench, celebrating a goal scored in the National Championship match.
The Pioneers have a good time a function of their 5–1 victory over Minnesota State within the 2022 NCAA National Championship recreation. Photo by means of Damian Strohmeyer/NCAA Photos by means of University of Denver Athletics

Can we think the similar offensive manufacturing from this yr’s workforce?

The Pioneers misplaced seven forwards within the offseason (4 to commencement, one switch, and two to the National Hockey League), together with their 4 best scorers and best line. But Coach Carle stays constructive in regards to the newbies, which incorporates two transfers and 3 scorching pictures picked within the NHL draft: Rieger Lorenz (2d spherical, Minnesota), Aidan Thompson (3rd spherical, Chicago), and Jared Wright (6th spherical, Los Angeles).

Likely main DU’s best line this yr is sophomore Carter Mazur (a newly minted change captain). The Michigan local seems to be to construct on a standout rookie season because the Pioneers’ fifth-highest scorer (14 targets, 24 assists, and a +23 plus/minus ranking) and 2d amongst all freshman within the NCAA. He used to be drafted by means of the Detroit Red Wings within the 3rd spherical (seventieth general) in 2021.

Does protection win championships?

In the Centennial State, it certain turns out so. Like their skilled brethren [hyperlink to Avs preview], the Pioneers are carried by means of stout blue liners who give a contribution greater than their justifiable share offensively. They misplaced most effective two defensemen within the offseason, so search for stalwarts like Sean Behrens, Mike Benning, Shai Buium, Justin Lee, and Kyle Mayhew to construct off of uber-successful 2021-’22 campaigns.

Senior Justin Lee, from Waskada, Manitoba, Canada, earned the C after a 16-point effort (3 targets, 13 assists) with 33 blocked pictures and 30 penalty mins closing yr. He leads the workforce by means of instance and performs competitive, team-first hockey, says Coach Carle. He spent his 2022 summer season in construction camp with the Arizona Coyotes.

Another defender to keep watch over is Benning, who scored the game-winning function in opposition to Minnesota State within the Pios’ championship fit. He performed in all 41 video games closing yr, tallying 15 targets and 23 assists and main the workforce in each plus/minus ranking (+32) and taking pictures share (18.3). He spent his 2022 summer season in construction camp with the Florida Panthers.

I’m no longer an alum—must I catch a recreation?

The Pioneers, who play their house contests at Magness Arena at the DU campus, serve up the similar vim and vigor of the NHL however at a fragment of the fee. Tickets vary get started round $20 on the house barn. Don your pink and enhance the place of origin boys—many of whom are most probably to succeed in the professionals in the end.

Can’t-Miss Matchup

DU Pioneers captain Justin Lee wears a white jersey with a crimson helmet on the ice during a hockey game.
Denver captain and defenseman Justin Lee all through an NCAA hockey recreation on Friday, Oct. 7, 2022, in Denver. Photo by means of AP Photo/Bart Young

The Pios have 23 house video games at the slate this yr, however one sequence digs slightly deeper: the Battle of the Gold Pan. This vintage school hockey contention pits the Colorado College Tigers in opposition to the Pioneers, in probably the most neighborly of tactics. Although the Tigers have been 6–17–1 in convention play closing yr, this Front Range face-off comes within the heart of a stacked season for the Pios. Bringing house the Gold Pan would set the level for this season’s Frozen Four playoffs—and perhaps DU’s tenth National Championship.

The puck drops at house at Magness Arena on January 27 and away in Colorado Springs the next week: February 4.

Josette Deschambeault

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