Battle Of The Bling

DU's '04 & '05 National Championship Rings vs. the '06 Wisconsin version.

The Wisconsin Ring has several interesting features. Included in the design are six diamonds (representing the six NCAA titles in program history); the word "relentless" (the team motto); a symbol of the state (representing milestone wins at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, in the NCAA Midwest regional in Ashwaubenon and the Frozen Four in Milwaukee); the score of the NCAA title game (2-1); and the season record (30-10-3).
NCAA Reprimands Stanford's Tree Mascot
Mascot Suspended for Next NCAA Women's Tourney

STANFORD, Calif. (Aug. 25) - The Division I women's basketball committee reprimanded and fined Stanford on Friday for the antics of its tree mascot during the NCAA tournament last March.

The tree refused to leave the court at halftime of Stanford's victory over Florida State on March 20 in Denver, and the NCAA also cited "violation of multiple tournament policies regarding bands, cheerleaders and mascots" in its announcement, giving no more details. At the time, the tree reportedly was suspended for Stanford's next game in the regional semifinals.

"The committee was very disappointed in this disturbing pattern of behavior and strongly believes that these acts compromised the integrity of the championship," said Joni Comstock, the committee chair and the athletic director at American University.

The previous student to wear the tree costume was fired in February when she performed while drunk at Stanford's men's basketball game against California. The NCAA cited policy violations in previous years as a factor in the suspension.

DU Update From The Chancellor

I received a letter yesterday from Chancellor Coombe about the current status of the University of Denver. I'm fairly certain that I'm on a mailing list and not because he's a regular reader of LetsGoDU.

Here are some of the highlights...

  • DU will welcome 1,140 new Freshman out of 5,800 applicants this Fall.
  • There will be a new "University Writing Program" for first year students. All writing classes will enroll 15 or fewer students.
  • 550 undergraduates will study abroad this year. Nationally, just 1% of students study overseas, but at DU 50% study abroad for at least one term.
  • At the graduate level, the Daniels College of Business is strong, the College of Education is growing and Graduate School of International Studies continues to grow. Enrollment at the Strum School of Law will be lower this year.
  • The former President of Poland, Aleksander Kwasniewski will be a visiting scholar this Fall.
  • A new residence facility, Nagel Hall & a 600 car parking structure are under construction. Nagel Hall will replace the Pioneer & Skyline apartments in the middle of the campus.
  • Finally, Chancellor Coombe encourages alumni to stay active and share your energy and expertise with the University. He doesn't mention Hockey Blogs, so I'm not sure if I'm helping or hurting the University. Stay tuned.
(left) The special edition Crimson & Gold Gwozdeckelade will be available at Denver area Cadillac dealerships starting in 2007

Denver Hockey Adds a Little Bling & Gains Critical Street Cred

The DU Hockey Program has led the nation in innovations both on and off the ice in the past few seasons. The latest improvement is the DU Hockey website which becomes the first in college hockey to have both a "Cracker" and a "Gangsta" version to reach out to a wider audience. DU believes that the players of the future will increasingly come from non-tradtional hockey areas including the inner cities. To access DU-GangstaHockey.com just hit the link.

CC Player Leads USA to Roller Hockey World Championship

Colorado College Senior Bill Sweatt, a significant contributor to the title run with four goals and three assists in six games, helped Team USA win the 2006 IIHF InLine World Hockey Championship, a senior men's event where Sweatt was nearly 10 years younger than some of his teammates and opponents.

"It was awesome," said Sweatt, who also won a bronze medal with Team USA at the 2005 IIHF InLine Hockey World Championship as a 16-year-old. "Budapest itself is a beautiful city. To play at that high level and get to see the world is special. To get more international experience was a lot of fun. Hey, can you pass the bananas."

Rakhshani Tallies 7 Assists

DU incoming Freshman Rhett Rakhshani dished out seven assists during the four game National Evaluation Camp in Lake Placid, NY. The United States boasted the top nine scorers in the Camp. Phil Kessel (Madison, Wis.) and Rakhshani finished in a tie atop the Camp’s leaderboard in points. Both Kessel (3-4) and Rakhshani (0-7) finished with seven points in four games

Competing against the best (Under 20 year old) players from Sweden and Finland, Rakhshani's USA-White team went undefeated in the Tournament. He will be eligible for the 2007 National Junior Team.
Rakhshani gets hooked by a Finnish defender

Incoming Freshman Rhett Rakhshani is taken down by a Finnish player during USA vs. Finland tournament game - photos M. Wade

DU Player leads USA over Finland

The US Under-20 Team White defeated Finland 8-5 on Wednesday, August 9, 2006, at the 1980 Rink in Lake Placid, New York as part of the US Under-20 Training Camp and Summer Hockey Challenge. Rakhshani had 2 assists in the victory over Finland.

CC Lands New Hockey Recruit

Colorado College Head Hockey Coach Scott Owens announced the signing today of speedy right winger Stevie "Chimps" Owens from Los Angeles, CA. Chimps will enroll in the Fall of 2007 with a full scholarship. You may have noticed the strong familiarial resembalence and Owens confirmed that Chimps is his nephew.

Owens said, "I've never seen a kid who can scamble over the boards so quicky on shift changes. He's a real animal in the gym and he'll bring tons of energy to our program. The kid just doesn't sit still for a minute."

Owens added, "Chimps will help bolster our forward line and at 3'11" and 65 lbs. he is a little bigger than most of our fowards on the roster. He's got a quick turn of foot and is a better than average student."

Chimps is expected to major in Anthropology, but is looking forward to Colorado College's Block System and Liberal Arts Curriculum.

Former DU Assistant Appert Whips RPI Into Shape

BY KEN SCHOTT Gazette Sportswriter

Ever since Seth Appert was hired as Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s head men’s hockey coach in April, he has been on the go.

The former Denver University assistant coach has had a lot on his agenda, both with RPI and personal. He’s been on the road recruiting. He needed to hire two new assistant coaches. He has met with all the players, telling them what he expects. He also had to find a house for his wife and daughter.

It would seem like Appert’s mind has been spinning the last three months. But things are starting to slow down as he prepares for the 2006-07 season.

"I haven’t had a checklist, but it’s been a continuous list day after day," said Appert, who replaced Dan Fridgen. "It’s been crazy. It’s been a whirlwind. But I’m seeing now things starting to settle in. First off, I’ve got my family here.

"There hasn’t been any moment that it’s been, ‘Oh, my gosh.’ Part of that is being fortunate to get hired in late April instead of late June or early July. I had a month to put things together."

His more important moves, as far as the hockey program is concerned, were hiring two assistant coaches after deciding not to retain Frank Bretti and Jeff Matthews.

His first hire was former Maine star Jim Montgomery. He then chose Army assistant coach and former Denver U. defenseman Shawn Kurulak.

"I could take my time with that process, and not have to [make a] rash [decision] and hire a couple of guys at the end of the summer," Appert said. "That’s something I felt already this summer that’s going to be dividends over the next couple of years."

As far as recruiting, Appert is looking to add three more players for this season. He already received a verbal commitment from defenseman Peter Merth last month.

Merth played for the Burnaby Express of the British Columbia Junior Hockey League. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Merth was named the best defensive player at the Royal Bank Cup tournament, which his team won. He had five goals and 17 assists in 60 regular-season games.

Appert is looking at adding another defenseman, and a recruit who can play forward and defense.

"It’s difficult this late in the season, with limited scholarship money available," Appert said.

Appert is happy with the progress the players are making in their offseason conditioning program.

"When they left campus, there was a lot of excitement, a lot of enthusiasm. Change is that way," Appert said. "But knowing that mid-July, the end of July, it gets tough. You’re home, it’s 95 degrees outside — it gets pretty easy to skip workouts in the midst of things. To continue that momentum is to keep in touch with each other, not only from the staff, but from player to player."
(above) Andrew Thomas will anchor DU's Defense this season

Pioneers Asked to Defend Nation's Capital

by Mike Vogel

Washington Captials Website

July 31, 2006

One is a stay-at-home defenseman, an American from New England. The other is more of an offensive-minded rearguard who hails from out west, Delta, British Columbia to be exact. But New Hampshire native Andrew Thomas and B.C.-born Keith Seabrook have a couple things in common besides their position. They’re both going to be playing hockey at the University of Denver in 2006-07, and they’re both members of the Washington Capitals’ organization.

Thomas is heading into his junior year with the Pioneers, and Seabrook is about to begin his freshman campaign. Ironically enough, when Seabrook visited Denver while shopping for colleges, he was paired up with Thomas.

“[Thomas] was actually my student host when I went down to Denver for the visit there,” says Seabrook, who will enter the U. of Denver this fall, after spending the 2005-06 season with the Burnaby Express of the British Columbia Junior Hockey League. “I stayed with him and I got to know him pretty well. It’s good to have someone like that who you can talk to and get a good perspective on what’s going on [with the Capitals] and at Denver.”

Thomas followed the 2006 NHL Entry Draft a little bit, and was excited to learn that Seabrook, who would soon be joining him in Denver, would also be joining him on the Capitals’ depth chart. The two young defensemen hit it off well and have become fast friends.

“It’s kind of a ritual that our coaches set up a recruit with somebody at that position who is going to be an upperclassman at that position when they come in as freshmen,” says Thomas of being matched with Seabrook. “I was lucky enough to have Keith in and we hit it off really well right from the get go and he hit it off with all my teammates and everybody from Denver. I think it was a pretty easy decision for him [to attend the U. of Denver] when it came down to it.”

Both players got their first taste of an NHL development camp in mid-July when they reported to Hershey, Pa. to take part in Washington’s annual summer development camp. Because of strict NCAA rules and to protect their amateur standing, the only way for college players to participate in such camps is to pay their own way, including transportation, lodging, meals and all other expenses. The prohibitive cost usually limits collegiate participants to a precious few, but there were more college participants at the Capitals’ camp this summer than any of the previous sessions.

Both Thomas and Seabrook made the most of the week and the chance to work with Caps and Hershey Bears coaches.

“With the new face of the game, skating is everything,” declares Thomas. “I will be working on my foot speed and working on my quickness. Getting up to top speed as fast as possible is my major goal. Obviously, I will work on the things I do well defensively and try to expand my game a little bit offensively. I think any good player always wants to do better in every area, so I am pushing myself in all aspects.”

Seabrook, whose brother Brent plays for the Chicago Blackhawks, had been working on the ice with his brother before arriving at developmental camp.

“Mostly quick feet and shooting,” he responds, when asked what areas of his game he is working on this summer. “Me and my brother have been working on one-timers lately. I’m working on everything, but mainly speed and shooting.”

Seabrook was chosen in the second round (52nd overall) of the 2006 Entry Draft, just weeks after helping Burnaby to a Doyle Cup victory (he had a hat trick in the deciding game) and a subsequent BCHL championship, the Royal Bank Cup. Just a couple of weeks after he was drafted, Seabrook pulled on a Washington sweater at the Caps’ summer camp. His brother’s previous experiences with such camps helped the younger Seabrook to acclimate himself.

“I kind of know how things go because of [Brent’s] experiences with camps when he was 17, 18, 19,” says Seabrook. “He has come back from camps and told me all about them so I kind of knew what to expect.”

After playing on a national championship team in his freshman year at Denver, Thomas was selected in the fourth round (109th overall) of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Because the ’05 draft was thrown together at the last minute upon the resolution of the labor strife between players and owners, few of the potential draftees were in attendance at the draft in Ottawa last summer. Thomas learned his draft fate via the internet.

“I actually followed the first couple of rounds on TV with a couple of my roommates out in Denver,” he remembers. “I was still at school at that point. Then after the broadcast on TV, I just followed along on NHL.com and kept hitting refresh on the web page. I finally saw my name in the fourth round and I was ecstatic. I called my parents right away and called all my family. As clich├ęd as it is, it is definitely a dream come true.”

Thomas had a strong sophomore season at Denver in 2005-06, but the team did not fare as well.

“I think last year was kind of a humbling experience, having somewhat underachieved and not making the tournament,” says Thomas. “There was a lot of personal success on the team; Matt Carle won the Hobey Baker and a lot of kids earned some pretty serious accolades. It was definitely a humbling experience after my freshman year, which was definitely a trip to say the least.

“Next year, we’re very optimistic and with having Keith coming in and a real solid recruiting class it is going to help a lot.”

Seabrook is just beginning his college career, and Thomas is likely halfway through his. Thomas’ fellow 2005 draftee Sasha Pokulok recently signed a pro contract with the Caps, forgoing his final two seasons of college hockey in the process. Thomas used this summer’s camp as a measuring stick, but believes he is likely to finish out his four years at Denver before going pro.

“Coming to Washington’s camp definitely gives me some sort of personal knowledge of where I stand here,” he says, “whether it comes from the coaching staff or the management or whether it is just comparing myself to the other players. If I am a four-year guy, I am a four-year guy. I have absolutely no problem with that. I love it at Denver.”

The Caps hope Thomas can continue to mentor and nurture Seabrook along as he integrates himself into the Denver program this fall. Washington also hopes both of these right-shooting rearguards find themselves patrolling the blueline at Verizon Center in the not-too-distant future.