Denver will look to reload, become NCAA's all-time leader in men's hockey national championships
Pioneers have four players named to the NCHC Preseason All-Conference team and been picked to win the conference regular season title
ST. PAUL — The University of Denver hockey team has a chance to become the NCAA Division I men's hockey all-time leader in national titles all by themselves. After winning last season's Frozen Four, the Pioneers go into the season with nine, which is tied with the University of Michigan.
Preseason polls like the looks of the Pioneers to do just that. Denver is ranked No. 1 in both national polls and has been picked to win the NCHC regular season title in a preseason media poll.
"I think it's awesome," Denver senior defenseman Justin Lee said of the rankings. "I think it's going to be fun. We know we're probably going to have a target on our backs, so we're going to get everyone's best game. We're looking forward to that.
Denver will have to replace some high-powered offensive players in Carter Savoie, Bobby Brink, Cole Guttman and Brett Stapley. But there are a lot of key players returning for the Pioneers, including NCHC Preseason All-Conference Team pick Magnus Chrona. Chrona, a Tampa Bay draft pick, was third in the nation in wins (28), sixth in shutouts (6) and tied for fouth in games played (37) last season.
"The returning guys give us a solid foundation, particularly in goal and on the back end," Pioneers coach David Carle said. "The hope is — when you draw up the perfect plan (as the season always goes) — that that group of 6-8 people on the back end will provide some stability. There's seven new people up front out of 15 who are looking to find their legs and find their way in how we play.
"We, as coaches, have to figure out who plays best with who. That's going to take some time to figure out, where all the puzzle pieces fit together. It's going to be a really unique and different challenge than what it was a year ago. That's something that we are looking forward to as a staff, as a program and as players."
Head coach: David Carle (5th season at Denver, 86-43-13 overall, 49-36-9-8 NCHC).
Last season’s record and finish: 31-9-1 overall, 18-6-0 NCHC. Co-NCHC regular season champions, reached NCHC Frozen Faceoff semifinals, beat MSU-Mankato in the NCAA Division I championship game.
Last season’s NCHC finish: Tied for 1st out of 8 teams.
NCHC preseason media poll: 1st.
Notable changes: The Pioneers lost high scoring forwards Bobby Brink (Philadelphia), Carter Savoie (Edmonton), Cole Guttman (Chicago) and Brett Stapley (Montreal) to pro hockey. Brink was the NCHC Player of the Year and led the nation in assists (43) and points (57). Savoie was fourth in the nation in goals (23) and tied for sixth in points (45). Guttman was 16th in goals (19) and tied for sixth in points (45). Stapley tied for 13th in points (43).
Outlook: How loaded were the Pioneers last season? Well, let's put it this way: Denver has four players (forward Carter Mazur, defensemen Mike Benning and Sean Behrens, goalie Magnus Chrona) named to the Preseason NCHC All-Conference Team. Denver was known as a team that could beat its opponents in multiple ways last season. That is likely to be the case again.
New faces: Forwards Aidan Thompson, Rieger Lorenz, Jared Wright, Tyler Haskins and Tristan Lemyre and defensemen Lucas Olvestad and Kent Anderson are freshmen. The Pioneers have also added transfers in forwards Tristan Broz (Minnesota) and Casey Dornbach (Harvard).