DU hockey begins season fueled by disappointment of “unacceptable” losing record last year – The Denver PostOctober 8, 2021
The University of Denver hockey program is ultra-motivated after failing to reach the NCAA Tournament last season for the first time since 2007.
On Friday night, with a full house expected at Magness Arena, the No. 12 Pioneers embark on a new season fueled by the disappointment of their losing record (10-13-1) from a year ago. DU had previously not finished below .500 going back to the 1999-2000 season.
“What happened last year was pretty unacceptable for DU standards, regardless if there was a pandemic or not,” said forward Ryan Barrow, a fifth-year senior and alternate captain. “There is a lot of unfinished business for all of us.”
DU hosts Arizona State on Friday and Saturday (homecoming) with the confidence to move past a rare down year. Coach David Carle initially joked it was better “to forget about it” after the Pioneers started 0-3 and fell into a season-long funk. But Carle later explained why that struggle was important for the program’s overall growth entering his fourth year as head coach.
“We learned a lot,” Carle said. “Number one is how important communication is and really in-person gathering when you’re trying to build a team. Coming into this year, being able to have our six weeks with our freshman, and a three or four-week training camp, and just get to be around the guys is really impactful and powerful. … It can be an X-Factor when you get into tight games against other really good programs.”
Senior Cole Guttman, a captain, is expected to appear in his 100th career NCAA game on Tuesday. He anchors a forward group that Carle said has “more depth than we’ve had in a long time” in terms of goal-scoring ability.
The Pioneers’ defense is young. But it’s loaded with star potential featuring a trio of freshmen selected within the first three rounds of the 2021 NHL Draft: Shai Buium (36th overall; Red Wings), Sean Behrens (61st overall, Avalanche) and Carter Mazur (70th overall, Red Wings). DU returns starting goaltender Magnus Chrona who is expected to split time in net with freshman Matt Davis.
“We like our speed, our depth, and our skill in all three spots,” Carle said. “Our fans can expect a team that can transition well, take away time and space, and play a real fast brand of hockey that really our fans have become accustomed to seeing.”
DU anticipates big crowds this weekend after the Pioneers played without fans all of last season.
“It’s definitely more fun with the student section out there,” Guttman said.
Barrow added: “Your legs feel a little lighter when the fans are going nuts.”
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