NCHC Snapshot: Denver
Denver finished second in the conference in 2015-16 and advanced to the Frozen Four before falling to NCHC foe North Dakota.
Last season, the Pioneers split with Miami in Oxford Dec. 4-5 but finished 17-5-2 in NCHC play and 25-10-6 overall – a .683 winning percentage.
NCAA TITLES: 7 (1958, 1960, 1961, 1968, 1969, 2004, 2005).
COACH: Jim Montgomery (69-40-14 in three seasons).
2015-16 RECORD: 25-10-6 (17-5-2 in NCHC, 3rd place in the league).
POSTSEASON RESULT: Lost to North Dakota, 4-2 in the Frozen Four on Apr. 7.
RINK (capacity): Magness Arena, Denver, Colo. (6,026).
LAST SEASON VS. MIAMI: 1-1 in Oxford (Jan. 29 – 3-1 Miami; Jan. 30 – 5-3 DU).
ALL-TIME SERIES: Tied, 10-10-0.
SCHEDULE VS. MIAMI: In Denver Nov. 18-19. In Oxford Feb. 17-18.
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: D Will Butcher (C), G Tanner Jaillet, G Evan Cowley, F Dylan Gambrell.
KEY DEPARTURES: F Trevor Moore (early), F Grant Arnold (C, graduated), F Danton Heinen (early).
KEY NEW FACES: F Justin Cole, F Henrik Borgstrom (23rd overall pick by Florida in 2016).
NOTES: Denver has finished sixth, fourth and third in the eight-team NCHC in three seasons.
The Pioneers scored 134 goals last season, but the only skater on the 2015-16 team that registered 20 or more goals in 2015-16 graduated.
Gambrell is the team’s top returning scorer with 47 points, second-best on the team. That included 17 goals, and he was second on the team in assists (30).
The defense corps is led by Captain Will Butcher, who was tied for a team best plus-17. He also contributed on special teams, racking up 13 points on four goals and nine assists.
Goalie Tanner Jaillet started the bulk of games for Denver last season, and the junior went 17-5-5 with three shutouts.
Evan Cowley will likely be the Pioneers backup. Last year he went 8-5-1 with a 2.07 GAA, one shutout, and a .929 save percentage last season. Cowley was between the pipes Jan. 29 in the RedHawks’ 3-1 victory.
Seven freshman make the DU roster a year removed from their Frozen Four appearance, including Tyson McLellan, son of Edmonton Oilers coach Todd McLellan.
Denver will be without last year’s points leader, now Boston Bruins prospect, F Danton Heinen. The Pioneers will still be dangerous as they bring in a slew of young talent including F Henrik Borgstrom.
Denver reached the Frozen Four for the first time since they last won the NCAA title in 2005. The Pioneers will be poised to get back to playing meaningful April hockey and considering DU will have the same coach and starting goaltender as last season, Denver has an excellent change to be in the NCHC’s top tier.