The College of Denver hockey season begins subsequent week with the Pioneers assured in pursuit of including a ninth nationwide championship to their exceedingly massive trophy case.
It received’t take lengthy to search out out if the No. 5 Pioneers are legit. Their opening schedule is stacked.
“Little question, it’s robust,” DU coach David Carle mentioned. “We’re grateful and excited for the chance to get into it. Having significant video games immediately is superior.”
The NCAA hockey season, slated to begin in early October earlier than the coronavirus pandemic, lastly returns in a “pod” format in Omaha the place DU and fellow Nationwide Collegiate Hockey Convention groups will converge to every play 10 video games apiece over the primary three weeks of December.
On Dec. 2, DU opens the season towards No. 3 Minnesota Duluth (the defending NCAA champions). Two days later, the Pioneers face No. 1 North Dakota.
“Everybody is keen to play and everyone seems to be extraordinarily excited,” mentioned senior DU ahead Kohen Olischefski, the Pioneers’ captain this season. “We all know it’s going to be a problem. This format is one thing we haven’t seen earlier than with numerous video games in a brief time period. Our conditioning and our health are our largest level of emphasis proper now.”
The Pioneers additionally know the complete season — which incorporates home-and-away video games towards regional foes beginning in January — could be on skinny ice. A DU participant examined optimistic for COVID-19 about two-and-a-half weeks in the past, Carle mentioned, which required seven further gamers to “get shut down for a short lived period of time.”
The Pioneers are actually again at full energy.
“That’s been our one main hiccup,” Carle mentioned. “Our group has been doing a fantastic job, however clearly, typically it doesn’t matter how nice of a job (you’re doing). With a contagious virus, it nonetheless may get you. I give our guys numerous credit score. We’ve carried out the correct issues away from the rink to verify we’re on the ice as a lot as potential.”
Added Olischefski: “It’s simply been numerous laying low, making sacrifices and selections which might be for the higher of the group. We’re simply making an attempt to remain protected and wholesome proper now. Clearly, optimistic assessments put a giant wrench into issues.”
The Pioneers have cause to be assured. DU returns 63% of its goal-scoring from a yr in the past and 4 defensemen with a minimum of 25 video games performed. Add in a trio of instant-impact graduate transfers — D Bo Hanson (St. Lawrence), F Steven Jandric (Alaska Fairbanks) and G Corbin Kaczperski (Yale) — and the Pioneers consider they’ve the expertise and depth to compete with anybody.
“The tempo at which we do issues has been essentially the most spectacular,” Carle mentioned. “We’d like that with the type of play we like. We’d like all 4 traces to have the ability to do it. I like our depth in any respect three positions. We’re a assured bunch.”