Monday, May 19, 2008

Mad, Mad World

So it’s been about 3 months and I swear, I have a pretty good reason for not keeping on top of things here at Hockey In Colorado. I quit my job. That is a big life-changing event and I needed to focus on finding a new job and moving on…so I did and I quite honestly could not be happier. In my 4 years as an employee of the University of Denver, I learned a lot about what it means to be a professional as well as a whole lot about how to run a University successfully. I value everything I learned at DU, but it was time for me to start new. I moved to the private sector, specifically to Great-West Life and Annuity. It has been a great two months there and I am looking forward to many more years like it.

Enough about me already, right? Let’s talk hockey!! DU made it to the WCHA Final Five after sweeping the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs. I had the great pleasure of traveling to Saint Paul with two fellow DU fans. It was one of the greatest hockey experiences I’ve had thus far. The Twin Cities were inviting and friendly, as were the other fans. There are really no words to describe what it was like to see DU beat Minnesota for the Broadmoor Trophy in front of a Gopher crowd…

I also had the opportunity of attending the Frozen Four in Denver. Although DU was not playing, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. Personally, I thought DU got the short draw (having to play Wisconsin on their home ice in first game of the regionals), but I was glad just to see them make it to the dance after two long years of the being the first team out. For the Frozen Four, I became an ND fan…that’s right, I cheered for North Dakota when they played BC, and Notre Dame when they played the much hated Michigan Wolverines. That being said, I was happy to see a BC/Notre Dame final. I’ve always been a fan of Notre Dame sports and so was thrilled to be there for their first trip to the Frozen Four.

Here are just a few (and yes, 133 is A FEW) of the pictures I took during my hockey adventures late in the season…

In retrospect, DU exceeded every expectation I had for their season. I think they are in great position to do even better next season. With all the best of luck, I’ll take a look at next year’s squad in the next couple of days.

On the flipside, I think the Avalanche only just met expectations for this year. They faced amazing odds throughout, however, as they faced a multitude of injuries to all the players. Joel Quennville will not be returning as coach next year, which I don’t think is a bad thing. I’ve felt that since the lockout the Avalanche have underachieved and been the victim of mediocre goaltending from better than average goaltenders. I’ve heard talk that Ron Wilson (formerly of the San Jose Sharks) is a candidate for the job and I think that he just might be what the Avs need. Wilson is not afraid to call out an underachieving player (of which the Avs have many), however he also might be too abrasive. Only time will tell…

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Yes, indeed Miscellanea is a word!

So the trade deadline has come and gone (yesterday to be exact). Of note: the Avs signed Peter Forsberg; they received Adam Foote for a conditional first-round draft pick in 2008 or 2009 and a conditional fourth-round pick in 2009; and finally, traded Karlis Skrastins for Ruslan Salei of the Florida Panthers.

Admittedly, I'm not overly excited about any of these acquisitions. Peter Forsberg *could* (and that's a pretty big could) be a great asset to the Avalanche in the stretch run to the playoffs. However, $5 million for a *could* is a pretty big risk to take. I sincerely hope that in June I have to eat my words and bow down to the greatness of Forsberg, but I fear it's all just a publicity stunt to get butts in the seats at the Pepsi Center.

I think Foote is a great addition, but at 36 I think it's safe to say Foote may be past his prime and just looking to end his career with the franchise that started it all (same goes for Forsberg if his injury problems continue).

As for Salei, I'm not familiar with him at all. He looks to be a "defensive defenseman," which, lord knows, the Avalanche are in sore need of.

CC is doing disgustingly well, even though they finally lost at home to St. Cloud State earlier this month. I've heard talk of Bachman for Hobey. While he's certainly got the credentials on the ice, I think Kevin Porter from Michigan is a shoe-in for the win, followed closely by Nate Gerbe of BC. I think the sleeper candidate is Chad Rau from CC. He's quietly having a career year with 22 goals and 12 assists for 34 points, with only 3 penalties for 6 minutes!

There's a new site for Pioneer fans that is (quite conveniently) called They have a great idea and it seems to be going well so far, so check it out!

Swept/Sweep same diff...

February 15th and 16th, the Pioneers visited the Taj MaHockey (aka Ralph Englestad Arena). All I can say is what an embarrassment. There is really no good that came from that weekend of hockey. On Friday, the Pioneers were up 4-1 on the Sioux and blew that lead to lose 5-4. What happened, you may be wondering, the answer to which is the Pioneers just stopped playing. They grew too comfortable with their lead and started making mistakes. Absolutely embarrassing...

Saturday wasn't much better as the Sioux completed the sweep and kicked the Pioneers' collective (and individual) ass. It all started at the 6:38 mark of the second period when JP Testwuide and Kyle Radke literally dropped the gloves for a small skirmish. This was definitely not a full fledged fight, but in my opinion, both players should have been assessed game disqualifications for fighting rather than the 2 minutes for roughing they received (In case you're curious that mistake was rectified by the WCHA after the game). From there, all hell broke loose. I'll let you watch it rather than trying to explain it all...

It's been reported that the fight broke out when Joe Finley knocked into Rhett Rakhshani while the players were exiting the ice, this caused Peter Mannino to hit Finley. Long story short, both teams look ridiculous. The Pioneers were ganging up on the few Sioux players still on the ice, while Vossberg claims he didn't want to get suspended for fighting so he let Radke beat the $hit out of him...

Last weekend, the Pioneers (minus Testwuide and Vossberg on Friday due to Game DQs) swept (Friday 4-2, Saturday 3-1) the Seawolves of Alaska-Anchorage. No offense to UAA and its fine fans, but I just couldn't get excited about this series. I ended up skipping the Friday night game in favor of Happy Hour and was bored out of my mind on Saturday. I'm glad the Seawolves put up a fight (kinda) and I'm grateful that Denver was able to get 4 valuable league points.

The Pioneers traveled to Houghton, MI today to face the Huskies of Michigan Tech. Last year the Pioneers fared less than well against an always difficult Husky team. I hope they can pull out another sweep to keep themselves in 3rd place in the WCHA.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Ease on down the road...

According to a press release from, Redshirt Sophomore Brock Trotter has signed a professional contract with the Montreal Canadiens. He was then assigned to the team's AHL affiliate, the Hamilton Bulldogs. While he has been added to Hamilton's roster, he has yet to play a game. Best wishes to Trotter in his future hockey career.

This weekend, the much hated (and struggling) Golden Gophers of Minnesota visited Magness Arena. On Friday night, the Pioneers had a much better effort than in recent games and were able to end the evening with a 1-1 tie. Freshman phenom Tyler Bozak scored the lone goal for the Pioneers on a beautiful short-handed play.

Saturday night saw the Pioneers trounce the Gophers in a hard fought 4-1 win. The Pioneers got goals from 4 different players (Glasser, Bozak, Rakhshani, and Gifford).

Tyler Bozak has definitely solved the Gophers this year as he has 8 points (6 goals, three of which were shorthanded, and 2 assists) in the 4 games he's played against the Gophers.

Up next for the Pioneers is a visit to Ralph Englestad Arena. The Fighting Sioux stand just 2 points ahead of the Pioneers in the WCHA, with DU having 2 games in hand. This weekend will be a great test for DU that will show whether this young team has the mental and physical fortitude to make a splash come March and April.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

What the French, Toast?!?

I had hoped that by the time I was able to sit down and write a post there would be some good news. However, the hockey scene in Denver is as bleak as the weather's been as of late.

University of Denver

The Pioneers hosted the Badgers in the second weekend of January. I was unable to attend the Friday Night due to a prior work engagement, but I did DVR it so to watch it later. The Badgers battled back from a 3-0 deficit to seemly tie the game in the final 4 seconds of the game. However Referee Randy Schmidt ruled that it was a no goal. Turns out rather than looking at the entire replay (which showed the puck entering and exiting the net before the end of the period), he saw only a screen shot at the 0:00 mark of the 3rd period, granting the Pioneers a 3-2 win over the Badgers. Amid the outcry of fans and Mike Eaves, the WCHA issued an apology admitting that Schmidt made an error and the goal should have counted, however they are unable, due to NCAA rules, to change the outcome of the game. You may remember that Randy Schmidt is the same ref that allowed Jesse Martin's controversial goal in the favor of the Pioneers when they visited St. Cloud State. Much to the chagrin of all parties involved, Schmidt was allowed to officiate the Saturday night game of the series. In my opinion, this was a HUGE mistake by the league as, from my view, Schmidt spent the entire evening trying to make up for mistake the previous night, including allowing a Badger goal that changed the flow of the game, leading the Badgers to a 7-2 win over the Pioneers. After allowing 5 goals, Senior Goaltender Peter Mannino was replaced by Freshman Marc Cheverie.

The following weekend saw the Pioneers play at Air Force and host Bemidji State. As is to be expected, the Air Force Falcons worked hard the entire 60 minutes of the game, to a well deserved 5-2 win over the Pioneers. Once again, the Pioneer defense left goalie Peter Mannino out to dry, and he was pulled in favor of Marc Cheverie after allowing 4 goals. The Pioneers hosted the Bemidji State Beavers the next night. Marc Cheverie's play earned him the starting job for the Saturday night tilt. Four different Pioneers scored in the 4-2 win over the Beavers, included Matt Glasser who scored his first goal in his collegiate career.

After a long bye-week, the Pioneers traveled to Mankato, Minnesota for its first WCHA road series of the New Year. If you're any kind of DU fan, you'll remember the 8-7 loss to the Mavericks in the 2003-2004 season. It seems that DU can never play "their" game when visiting Mankato and this trip was no different. The Mavericks pounded the Pioneers in a 5-1 loss for DU. For the third consecutive game, Peter Mannino allowed 4 or more goals. The one bright spot was perhaps that Rhett Rakhshani scored in his second consecutive game and seems to be coming out of his WJC haze. The next night the Pioneers lost by a hair in a 3-2 loss as the Mavericks completed the sweep. It's a bit ironic that the same team DU swept at home for its first WCHA home sweep in a year and half, ended up sweeping them when they visited...

The biggest (and most likely most tragic, but nothing appears to be certain yet) news of late is that Brock Trotter did not make the trip to Mankato with the team. When it was first reported (see:Crucial Stretch starts with Trotter Missing), it appeared (at least in my reading of this quote: "I can't tell a lot about why he is not with us," Gwozdecky said. "All I can say is that each guy on our team has a private life and at this point in time, we have to respect his privacy. This was an internal decision to not have him on the trip.") that there was some sort of personal issue that Trotter was dealing with. However as days have passed and news has been deferred repeatedly (see: the mention of TrotterWatch in the USCHO Fan Forum All Things DU XVIII Thread), speculation has run rampant through the hockey community. Chris at the Western College Hockey blog has a great summary of the events of the last day or so. Check it out: Where in the World is Brock Trotter?

While I have several theories, I'm not going to commit them to writing as there is every chance that this is an extremely personal situation for Trotter and there's no reason to besmirch him based on rumor and innuendo. I can only say that I sincerely hope that when all the smoke has cleared the integrity of both player and program remain intact.

That's really all I have the energy for now...

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Two Weeks in Colorado Hockey

University of Denver
After the Christmas break, the Denver Pioneers hosted the Wells Fargo Denver Cup at Magness Arena. Peter Mannino recorded his 13th career shutout (tying him with Gerry Powers for first place on DU’s career shutout list) in Friday's game to lead the Pioneers in a 5-0 victory over the Sacred Heart Pioneers. , allowing DU to advance to the Championship game. On Saturday they faced the Big Green from Dartmouth, winning by a score of 5-3 to capture the Wells Fargo Denver Cup. Tyler Bozak and Brock Trotter were once again honored by the WCHA, earning back-to-back honors, Bozak as the Rookie of the Week, Trotter as the Offensive Player of the Week.

The Pioneers will face the Wisconsin Badgers this weekend at Magness. The Badgers are coming off a weekend of being swept at home by the Colorado College Tigers. Having watched the Saturday night match, I think it's safe to say this will not be an easy weekend for the Pioneers. The Badgers played a very solid 50 minutes, but allowed the Tigers to capitalize on some Badger mistakes. Not to mention, the Badgers will benefit from the return of Kyle Turris, Blake Geoffrion and Jamie McBain, who were participating in the World Junior Championships last weekend. DU will also regain WJC Team USA participants Rhett Rakhshani and Tyler Ruegsegger.

Colorado College
Our neighbors to the South have found themselves in a bit of trouble. Two players were recently suspended from school (one was suspended from playing) for varrying lengths (Cody Lampl, until January 2009; Derek Patrosso, until March 12, 2008; Chad Rau, one game) in an incident which CC's President, Richard Celeste, has declined to comment on. There's been some amazingly entertaining speculation going on regarding what exactly the players did to be suspended. Let's Go DU has offered a $50 bounty for the first person who correctly guesses what the players did to receive the suspensions. Trust me when I say that reading the comments section of that post is WELL WORTH IT.

On the ice, the Tigers have faired well. Beating RPI 3-2 in the opening round of the Lightning College Hockey Classic in Tampa, FL. However, in the Championship game on Sunday, the Tigers fell to UMass in overtime by a score of 5-4. Last weekend, the Tigers visited the Wisconsin Badgers. They earned two wins (2-0 on Friday, 3-1 on Saturday) in their first league play of the year. Chad Rau scored two shorthanded goals (one in each match), for a league leading total of 5 this year, 4 of which have come agains the Badgers...

Colorado Avalanche
The Avs received some terrible news when they heard Captain Joe Sakic is expected to miss 8-12 weeks after undergoing Hernia surgery. But the bad news didn't stop there, as the Avs will be missing Ryan Smyth for approximately 8 weeks due to a fractured ankle. In the last three weeks, the Avs have recalled Cody McLeod, David Jones (who was later reassigned), TJ Hensick, and Johnny Boychuk.

Through their last 9 games, the Avs are 4-3-2. Currently they are 8th in the Western Conference and 4th in the Northwest Division.

One bright spot in all this has been the play of Marek Svatos, who has finally stepped up his game and shown what he's truly capable of.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Too Little, Too Late...

For the last month of my life, hockey has not been my top priority and for that I am truly sorry. This post is going to be pretty big as I try to hit all key points for the last month. And off we go!

It was rivalry weekend on the Front Range as the No. 3 Pioneers faced off against the No. 4 Tigers of Colorado College. In the first match-up of the home and home series, the Tigers walked all over the Pioneers with a 5-1 win at the Colorado Springs World Arena. Junior Chad Rau scored his first career hat trick to lead the Tigers to victory. On a personal note, I cannot say with enough fervor how much I HATE going to World Arena. I have yet to have a good experience in that venue. This time around it was a completely wasted CC “fan” that made my evening even worse by continually yelling obscenities towards my friends and me. Meanwhile, the true CC fans around us did nothing but laugh at the drunken man’s farce.

The tables turned when the Tigers visited the Pioneers at Magness Arena on Saturday night. Tyler Ruegsegger, Rhett Rakhshani, and Tom May each scored in a 3-2 win over the Tigers.

A word on this edition of the Colorado College Tigers, they have incredible speed, are excellent on capitalizing on opponent’s mistakes, and have one of the premiere goal tenders in the WCHA. Richard Bachman, the freshman from Highlands Ranch, CO was truly amazing both nights in net. I can only hope that Bachman, drafted in the 4th round by the Dallas Stars in 2006, will bolt early for the pros!

The following weekend saw our Pioneers host the North Dakota Fighting Sioux. Friday night saw Peter Mannino earning his 12th shutout as a Pioneer in a 1-0 victory for Denver. Mannino’s 27-save effort tied him with Adam Berkhoel for second place on DU’s career shutout list. He now sits one behind Gerry Powers (13) for first place.

Saturday night was a different story as the Pioneers lost by a score of 3-1. However, much like Friday night, Freshman Tyler Bozak scored the lone goal for DU. The Pioneers came out flat and showed little to no effort through the first two periods of the game, only coming to life in the third...too little, too late!

On December 4, standout sophomores Rhett Rakhshani and Tyler Ruegsegger were named to the 2008 U.S. Nationl Junior Team that will compete at the World Junior Championshops in the Czech Republic after Christmas. What an amazing honor and opportunity for these two amazing young men! While we'll miss them for the Denver Cup, we truly wish them all the best of luck in the Tournament!!

With the University of Denver campus emptied of students during our 6 week winter break, the Pioneer hockey team travelled to St. Cloud, Minnesota after their split with North Dakota. In the Friday night match, DU edged St. Cloud State 3-2. This win however did not come easily as the Huskies, who at the time were trying to snap a 4 game losing streak, fought hard throughout. Also, a questionable call really helped the Pioneers in this win. Jesse Martin's goal at 3:54 of the second period, the first of the night for the Pioneers, should not have been counted as a goal. See the YouTube video below. After the game, WCHA commisioner Bruce McLeod issued a formal apology to St. Cloud State.

On Saturday, the Huskies again came out hard. They outplayed DU throughout the first two periods, coming into the third the a 2-0 lead. With 6 minutes left on the game, the Huskies were looking forward to finally ending their long winning drought. Rhett Rakhshani had a different idea however and went on to score a hat trick in the final 5 minutes and 49 seconds of the game to lead Denver to another 3-2 win over St. Cloud. I let the play speak for itself, for surely there are not words to describe this truly amazing comeback...

Rakhshani was named as the INCH Player of the Week for his heroics in the game. I must thank him for reminding me why it is I love this sport so much. ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!

After a rather stunning sweep over St. Cloud, the boys headed up to Anchorage, Alaska for their final WCHA series before the Christmas break. The Pioneers beat the Seawolves 4-3 on Friday for their third win in a row, with goals from 4 different Pioneers (Testwuide, May, Martin, and Mullen).

Saturday night, again down by two goals, the Pioneers showed what they're made of, scoring 6 unanswered goals in a 6-2 win over the Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves, completing their second WCHA road sweep in a row.

The Pioneers concluded the first half of their season with a 14-4 record and 11-3 mark in the WCHA. They are now tied for 1st place in the WCHA with the Colorado College Tigers, both having 22 league points in 14 games played.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

“Let everyone sweep in front of his own door, and the whole world will be clean.”

Saturday, February 11, 2006 9:25 PM MST. That was the last time the Denver Pioneers swept a WCHA opponent in Magness Arena. That night, DU (oddly enough) earned a 5-1 win over the Minnesota State Mavericks. This weekend saw our Pioneers complete their first home sweep of a WCHA team since that night against the Minnesota State Mavericks. Here are some pertinent links to last weekend’s sweep:
-DU Tops Minnesota State, 2-1
-Pioneers Run Winning Streak to Four Games
-Mannino Named Co-Defensive Player of the Week

And the best of all, Tyler Ruegsegger's Short Handing Goal at the 13:07 mark of the 1st period from Saturday's game. Having been in attendance at the game, it was like all the air left the arena as 6,037 fans gasped at his amazing skill.

Last, please visit a new(ish) blog on the Denver scene. Coming from the Denver Post, Mike Chambers regularly writes about the DU hockey team.