DENVER - No. 3 seed Denver (21-11-4) hosts No. 10 seed Wisconsin (16-16-2) in the best 2-of-3 WCHA playoff series on March 9-11. Puck drop is set for 7:37 p.m. MT on Friday, March 9, 7:07 p.m. on Saturday, March 10, and 7:07 p.m. on Sunday, March 11 (if necessary) at Magness Arena (6,026). All three games will be webcast and audiocast on Pioneer Vision. The games will be broadcast locally on Denver's Sports Station 102.3 ESPN. Live stats and blog can be found at www.DenverPioneers.com. National scores can be accessed on www.WCHA.com.
THIS WEEKEND'S STORYLINES
- Denver is hosting the first round of the WCHA Playoffs for the ninth consecutive season.
- DU aims for its fifth consecutive trip to the WCHA Final Five on March 15-17.
- Wisconsin is the last team to knock Denver out of the first round of the WCHA Playoffs in 2007.
- The series features the two highest scoring defensemen in the nation in Wisconsin's Justin Schultz and Denver's Joey LaLeggia.
- DU head coach George Gwozdecky and UW head coach Mike Eaves helped Wisconsin to the NCAA title in 1977.
- The Pioneers are 1-9 against the Badgers in the WCHA Playoffs.
- No. 3 seed Denver (21-11-4, 14-8-4 WCHA) hosts No. 10 seed Wisconsin (16-16-2, 11-15-2 WCHA) in the best 2-of-3 first round WCHA playoff series.
- The Pioneers are 76-57-6 all-time in the league playoffs, including a league-leading 15 playoff titles. The Pioneers are seeking their 11th trip overall to the WCHA Final Five.
- DU has won 20 or more games for 11 consecutive seasons and 15 or more league games for five straight seasons.
- Denver is 14-6-1 against unranked opponents and 12-5-2 at home in 2011-12.
- Junior co-captain Drew Shore ranks fourth in the WCHA with a career-high 47 points (21g, 26a). Shore, who is tied for 63rd on DU's career points list with 112, is tied for first in the nation with 11 power-play goals and second with seven game-winning goals.
- Defenseman Joey LaLeggia leads NCAA rookie defenseman in points (37), assists (26) and goals (11). He ranks second among all NCAA defensemen and rookies at 1.03 points per game.
- Sam Brittain (5-3, 2.68 GAA and .921 Sv%) and Juho Olkinuora (8-6-3, 2.14 GAA, .926 Sv%) have split the last three series in net. Olkinuora stopped 26 shots for his second career shutout in DU's 3-0 win at Nebraska Omaha and Brittain made a career-high 38 saves in the 3-2 overtime win against the Mavericks.
- The Pioneers are 52-23-10 after the December holiday break since 2008-09 under George Gwozdecky.
Tickets for the first round of the WCHA Playoffs, slated for March 9-11, are currently on sale. Individual game tickets start as low as $18. Please contact Adam Sizemore at (303) 871-2389 for group ticket prices. Visit DenverPioneers.com or call the Ritchie Center North Box Office at (303) 871-GOAL to purchase tickets.
Forward Beau Bennett (wrist) and defensman David Makowski (upper body) remain out with injuries.
IN THE POLLS
The Pioneers are ranked No. 9 in the latest USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine polls. The Pioneers' No. 16 ranking on Jan. 9 marked the first time in nearly six years the team wasn't ranked in the top-15. The Pioneers were predicted to finish first in the WCHA in the 41st annual Grand Forks Herald's preseason coaches poll and second annual 94X media poll.
LAST TIME OUT
Luke Salazar scored with 38 seconds left in regulation and Daniel Doremus scored the game-winning goal at 2:35 of overtime as Denver beat Nebraska Omaha 3-2 on March 3. Sam Brittain stopped a career-high 38 shots and Drew Shore also scored as the Pioneers completed their second road sweep. Jason Zucker and Nick Shore added two assists each. Nebraska Omaha outshot Denver 40-29, but went 0-for-3 on the power play. Denver was 1-for-6 on the power play.
Nick Shore has 12 points (4g, 8a) during his career-high seven-game point streak. Jason Zucker has 10 points (6g, 4a) during his eight-game point streak and Drew Shore has six points (4g, 6a) during his five-game point streak. Luke Salazar has at least one point in six of the last seven games.
ABOUT THE 2011-12 PIONEERS
The Pioneers balanced offense is led by junior co-captain Drew Shore, sophomore Jason Zucker, freshman Joey LaLeggia and sophomore Nick Shore. Drew Shore leads DU in points (47), goals (21), assists (26), power-play goals (11), game-winning goals (7) and plus/minus rating (+18), Zucker leads the team with 136 shots on goal and shares the team in multi-point games (13) with LaLeggia. Zucker ranks second in points (42), and power-play goals (9). LaLeggia is tied for third among all NCAA defensemen with 11 goals. Nick Shore has 36 points (11g, 25a) and is DU's top faceoff man at 54 percent. Sophomore forward Beau Bennett has added 13 points (4g, 9a) in only 10 games and 2011 All-WCHA Rookie Team member David Makowski has 12 points (2g, 10a) in 20 games. Juho Olkinuora, Adam Murray, Sam Brittain and Zack Hope have a combined 21-11-4 record, 2.63 goals against average and .915 save percentage. Olkinuora has posted two shutouts, while Brittain stopped 28 shots in his second career shutout at Wisconsin on Feb. 18. Fifth-year senior Dustin Jackson leads DU with 154 hits and defenseman Paul Phillips has blocked a team-leading 56 shots.
The Pioneers rank first in the WCHA on the power play at 24.2 percent (37-for-153) after their 2-for-10 performance against Nebraska Omaha. DU has scored on the man-advantage in 15 of the last 18 games. The Pioneers, who killed 7-of-7 penalties against the Mavericks, rank fourth in the WCHA on the penalty kill at 82.2 percent. DU has scored on the power play in 23 of 36 games overall. Opponents have scored on the power play in 24 games. Shawn Ostrow, Joey LaLeggia and Chris Knowlton ave scored shorthanded goals for the Pioneers.
THE BENNETT FACTOR
Denver has averaged 4.4 goals per game with Beau Bennett in the lineup and 3.12 gpg in 26 games without him. The Pioneers are 15-8-3 without their star forward.
OSTROW AND KNOWLTON ENJOYING BEST SEASONS
Juniors Shawn Ostrow and Chris Knowlton have each established career highs in points, goals and assists. Ostrow has career highs in points (19) goals (10) and assists (9), while Knowlton has career-bests in points (19), goals (12) and assists (7). Ostrow has 29 points (14g, 15a) in his three-year career, while Knowlton has 31 points (19g, 12a) in three years.
ALL-TIME VS. WISCONSIN
DU is 57-74-10 all-time against Wisconsin in the series that dates back to 1968. The Pioneers are 27-38-4 against the Badgers in Denver and just 1-9 against Wisconsin in the WCHA Playoffs. The Badgers were the last team to deny the Pioneers a Final Five berth, defeating DU 3-2, 2-1 on March 9-10, 2007 at Magness Arena. The Pioneers charted a 3-0 win and 5-2 loss at Wisconsin this season. DU is 2-2-1 in its last five games against Wisconsin and 5-3-2 in its last 10.
SCOUTING THE BADGERS
The Wisconsin Badgers finished the regular season with a 16-16-2 overall record, 11-15-2 WCHA, and finished 10th in the conference with 24 points. The Badgers have won four of their last five games, including a road sweep of Bemidji State on Feb. 24-25 (4-2, 4-2) and split at WCHA regular season champion Minnesota on March 2-3 (4-1, 1-2). Wisconsin is led in points by forward Mark Zengerle (12-37=49) and in goals by reigning WCHA Defensive Player of the Year Justin Schultz (15-27=42). Zengerle is tied for first in the nation in assists per game (1.09) and Schultz leads all NCAA defensemen in scoring. Michael Mersch (14-16=30) and Tyler Barnes (10-15=25) have contributed 30 and 25 points, respectively. Freshmen Joel Rumpel (11-10-2, 2.59 GAA, .914 Sv%) and Landon Peterson (5-6-0, 3.02 GAA, .896 Sv%) have shared the goaltending duties in Wisconsin. Head coach Mike Eaves sports a 208-154-44 record in 10 seasons at the helm for the Badgers. Wisconsin's power play ranks fourth in the WCHA, going 33-for-154 (21.4%), and its penalty kill ranks 12th, having killed 97-of-129 (75.2%) penalties.
LALEGGIA NETS NATIONAL HONORS
Joey LaLeggia was named HCA National Rookie of the Month for January after tallying 12 points (2g, 10a) from the blueline as DU went 5-1. LaLeggia has at least one point in 15 of the last 17 games and is tied for the team lead with 13 multi-point games.
SCORING BY CLASS
The Denver sophomore class, led by Jason Zucker (20-22=42), Nick Shore (11-25=36), Beau Bennett (4-9=13), David Makowski (2-10=12) and Jarrod Mermis (3-2=5) leads DU in point scoring with 108 points on 42 goals and 66 assists. The sophomores have accounted for 32 percent of DU's point scoring. The DU junior class of Drew Shore (21), Shawn Ostrow (10), Chris Knowlton (12) and Paul Phillips (1) has accounted for 35.2 percent of DU's goal scoring.
CAREER SCORING LEADERS
Denver boasts three players with 83 or more career points. Drew Shore leads the way with 112 points (49g, 63a) in 116 career games, while Jason Zucker has 87 points (43g, 44a) in 71 career games and Luke Salazar has 83 points (42g, 41a) in 132 career games. Shore became the 94th member of the Pioneer Century Club for 100-point scorers with five points (2g, 3a) on Jan. 13 against Bemidji State.
DUAL LEADERSHIP FOR DU IN 2011-12
Redshirt senior Dustin Jackson and junior Drew Shore are co-captaining the Pioneers in 2011-12. Jackson and Drew Shore are the first DU co-captains since Matt Carle and Gabe Gauthier in 2005-06. Senior defenseman John Lee and junior blueliner Paul Phillips are serving as alternate captains. Jackson enters his fifth season with program after missing the 2009-10 season with a broken leg.
ZUCKER SELECTED WCHA PRESEASON PLAYER OF THE YEAR BY THE MEDIA
Sophomore Jason Zucker was selected as the WCHA Preseason Player of the Year by the media in the 94X poll. Zucker claimed WCHA Rookie of the Year honors last season after finishing second in WCHA goals (20) and third in points (36). Zucker ranked second in the nation in rookie scoring at 1.12 points per game.
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON?
Denver freshman forward Ty Loney is the son of former NHLer and two-time Stanley Cup Champion Troy Loney. Troy Loney played in the NHL for 12 seasons, spending 10 with Pittsburgh, one with Anaheim and a half-season each with the New York Islanders and the New York Rangers. Troy Loney won back-to-back Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh in 1991 and 1992. He registered 197 points on 87 goals and 110 assists in 624 career NHL games.
ROOKIE CLASS LOADED WITH TALENT
Defensemen Scott Mayfield, Josiah Didier and Joey LaLeggia, and forwards Zac Larraza, Daniel Doremus and Ty Loney headline the 2011-12 DU freshmen class. Mayfield is a physical two-way defenseman and 2011 NHL second round draft pick of the New York Islanders. Didier is a hard-nosed blueliner and 2011 NHL fourth round draft selection of Montreal. LaLeggia led all BCHL defensemen in scoring the past two seasons, while Larraza was a standout member of the U.S. National Development Team Program. Doremus tallied 35 points for Sioux Falls of the United States Hockey League last season, while Loney netted 23 goals and was teammates with Mayfield at Youngstown of the USHL. Forwards Larkin Jacobson and Matt Tabrum, defenseman Wade Bennett, and goaltender Juho Olkinuora complete the 2011-12 rookie class.
CARLE ENJOYING FOURTH SEASON
Senior David Carle is enjoying his fourth and final season as student assistant coach. Carle was forced to retire from competitive hockey prior to the 2008 NHL Entry Draft and his freshman season at DU after being diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). The disease is a thickening of the myocardium, which is the leading cause of sudden cardiac death in young athletes. Carle has made an impact with the Pioneers, helping the team to three consecutive NCAA Tournaments and 78 wins. He served as video coordinator for the gold-medal Team USA Under-17 Team at the 2011 Under-17 Five Nations Tournament in Ann Arbor, Mich.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGH
The 2011-12 DU roster sports eight Coloradans. Josiah Didier (Littleton), Daniel Doremus (Aspen), Chris Knowlton (Colorado Springs), John Ryder (Colorado Springs), Luke Salazar (Thornton), Drew Shore (Denver), Nick Shore (Denver) and Matt Tabrum (Colorado Springs) all hail from the Centennial State.
NHL DRAFT PICKS
The Pioneers boast 10 NHL Draft picks on this year's roster. Beau Bennett (1st round/Pittsburgh), Scott Mayfield (2nd/N.Y. Islanders), Drew Shore (2nd/Florida), Jason Zucker (2nd/Minnesota), Nick Shore (3rd/Los Angeles), Sam Brittain (4th/Florida), Josiah Didier (4th/Montreal), John Lee (5th/Florida), Paul Phillips (7th/Chicago) and Zac Larraza (7th/Phoenix) have all been selected by NHL clubs. Student assistant coach David Carle was also selected in the seventh round in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft by Tampa Bay. DU ranks third in the WCHA in current NHL Draft picks behind Minnesota (17) and North Dakota (15).
BAND OF BROTHERS
Denver has two sets of brothers for the second consecutive season. Beau and Wade Bennett join Drew and Nick Shore as DU brother tandems in 2011-12. The Bennett's are the seventh pair of brothers to play hockey on the same team at Denver, joining David and Evan Wylie (1951-53), Jim and Wayne Wiste (1966-67), Tom and Jim Peluso (1972), Ken and Dave Berry (1981), Kyle and Shawn Ostrow (2009-11) and Drew and Nick Shore (2010-12).
MORE BROTHERLY LOVE
Senior defenseman John Lee is the younger brother of former North Dakota and current Ottawa Senators defenseman Brian Lee. Student assistant coach David Carle is the younger brother of former Pioneer and current Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Matt Carle.
FUTURE FAMILY MATTERS
Forward Quentin Shore (Denver, Colo.), and defensemen Nolan Zajac (Winnipeg, Manitoba) and Dakota Mermis (Alton, Ill.) have inked National Letters of Intent to play for the Pioneers beginning in 2012-13. All three players have family ties to the Pioneer program. Shore is the younger brother of current Pioneers Drew and Nick Shore and Mermis is the younger brother of DU sophomore Jarrod Mermis. Zajac is the son of former Pioneer Tom Zajac, who played at DU from 1973-76. Shore has tallied 17 points (10g, 7a), including five game-winning goals in 44 games for the U.S. Under-18 Team in 2011-12. Zajac has a combined 32 points (8g, 24a) and three game-winning goals in 49 games for Cedar Rapids and Omaha of the United States Hockey League in 2011-12. Mermis has 21 points (5g, 16a), two game-winning goals and a +15 plus/minus rating in 47 games for the USHL's Green Bay Gamblers, who are coached by former DU assistant coach Derek Lalonde.
USHL REIGNS SUPREME
The DU roster has 13 players that honed their skills in the United States Hockey League and a program-high tying five players from the U.S. National Team Development Program. Nate Dewhurst (Des Moines), Josiah Didier (Cedar Rapids), Daniel Doremus (Sioux Falls), Chris Knowlton (Des Moines), John Lee (Waterloo), David Makowski (Green Bay), Scott Mayfield (Youngstown), Jarrod Mermis (Lincoln), Ty Loney (Youngstown), Juho Olkinuora (Sioux Falls), Paul Phillips (Cedar Rapids), John Ryder (Ohio) and Matt Tabrum (Omaha) joined DU from the USHL. Zac Larraza, Adam Murray, Drew Shore, Nick Shore and Jason Zucker joined DU from the USNTDP. The Pioneers also have five players from the North American Hockey League and two players each from the British Columbia Hockey League and Alberta Junior Hockey League.
DU VS. RANKED TEAMS
The Pioneers are 7-5-3 against ranked teams this season and 70-52-14 against ranked teams over the last seven seasons.
HOME SWEET HOME
The Pioneers are 173-76-15 (.681) all-time in 13 years of competition at Magness Arena. The Pioneers are 12-5-2 at home this season after finishing 16-4-2 at home in 2010-11.
IN THE PROS
Former Pioneers Tyler Bozak (Toronto), Matt Carle (Philadelphia), Paul Stastny (Colorado) and Chris Butler (Calgary) are currently playing in the NHL during the 2011-12 season.
The Pioneers are tied for second in NCAA Division I men's ice hockey with seven NCAA championships. DU captured national championships in 1958, 1960, 1961, 1968, 1969, 2004 and 2005.
FOLLOW DU HOCKEY, GWOZDECKY AND PLAYERS ON TWITTER
Members of the media can follow the Pioneers on Twitter @DU_Hockey. Head Coach George Gwozdecky (@CoachGwoz) is also on Twitter, while the following members of the team have individual Twitter handles:
Beau Bennett (@BeauBennett78)
Wade Bennett (@Wade_Bennett24)
Sam Brittain (@sbrittain1)
Nate Dewhurst (@DuHast37)
Josiah Didier (@JDidier4)
Daniel Doremus (@whipster19)
Zack Hope (@zhope30)
Larkin Jacobson (@Ljaco26)
Joey LaLeggia (@JLeggy21)
Zac Larraza (@zaclarraza16)
Ty Loney (@tyyourshoe)
Scott Mayfield (@scottmayfield2)
Shawn Ostrow (@sostrow26)
John Ryder (@RohnJyder)
Luke Salazar (@Goalczar18)
Drew Shore (@drew_shore15)
Nick Shore (@nshore23)
Matt Tabrum (@HewTabrum14)
Jason Zucker (@jasonzucker17)
ON THE HORIZON
The winner of the best 2-of-3 first round series advances to the WCHA Final Five on March 15-17.