From: Rocky Mountain News
by Pat Rooney
In 2005, the University of Denver's dreams of a third consecutive national title were dashed after the team managed only three wins in its final nine games.
Things got worse last year, as DU produced only one win in its final nine games when only one additional victory would have meant a return to the NCAA tournament.
If Andrew Thomas continues the steady leadership he has provided the third-ranked Pioneers, there is little chance of DU suffering a third consecutive late-season collapse.
Obscured somewhat by the emergence of DU's talented freshman class and the consistently stellar play of goaltender Peter Mannino has been the guidance of Thomas on a team that began the season with numerous question marks.
"We need to try to continue what our theme has been through the first half, and our plan from the first half and what our goals were shouldn't change and don't need to change," DU coach George Gwozdecky said.
"I think that is going to be the biggest challenge Andy and our captains will have. As a team, we may have flown under the radar a bit. Especially the first month or so. Now, with the position we have put ourselves in, there will not be an easy game for us. We will get everybody's 'A' game."
Thomas, a senior defenseman, was a freshman when captain Matt Laatsch helped lead DU to a national championship in 2005. That experience, combined with watching what went wrong the past two seasons, has braced Thomas for DU's drive toward the Frozen Four at the Pepsi Center.
"It's easy to look at captains as being successful, or not successful, based on how the team does," Thomas said. "Matt Laatsch certainly has been the biggest influence I've had since I've been at DU, in terms of being a leader and how to act professional."