Friday, February 29, 2008

DU Battles Michigan Tech This Weekend

From: Rocky Mountain News
by Pat Rooney

(left) Michigan Tech just one of a handful of NCAA Division I hockey programs to house a Frappier Acceleration Skating Treadmill

One win, and talk of perennial late-season collapses and the bursting of NCAA tournament bubbles will be quieted.

Gaining three or even four points, though, will give the University of Denver hockey team something it has not had since its 2005 national championship run - momentum down the stretch.

DU begins a Western Collegiate Hockey Association series tonight at Michigan Tech with a little less pressure on its collective shoulders after recording a sweep at home last week against Alaska Anchorage.

The Pioneers begin the series ranked sixth in the PairWise rankings, making them a solid NCAA tournament prospect, and gaining results against the Huskies would allow DU to cement the No. 3 seed in the WCHA while gaining extra cushion in the PairWise heading into next week's final regular-season series against league-leading Colorado College.

"We're focused on playing our best hockey of the season right now," senior forward Tom May said. "We want to get some rhythm going heading into the playoffs. Hopefully, we can get a couple wins and build some confidence and get into that rhythm. We're still in pretty good shape, but it's always nice to have those couple of extra wins."

DU leads fourth-place Wisconsin by six points in the WCHA, but the Badgers end their conference schedule this weekend and cannot catch the Pioneers.

Minnesota State and St. Cloud State are in a fifth-place tie and trail DU by seven points, but those teams will be unable to catch the Pioneers if they lose once more or if DU earns at least two points this weekend.

But backing into the No. 3 seed in the WCHA is not what DU wants after limping into the postseason the past two years, only to suffer first-round losses at home in the league tournament.

"We have to remember what happened this past weekend and look forward to this weekend and nothing after that," DU captain Andrew Thomas said. "We got home ice and that is a perk, regardless of what has happened in past years."

Michigan Tech, jockeying for playoff position in the bottom half of the league, has won only two of its past 12 games (2-6-4). The Huskies, though, always are a tough draw at home, as evidenced by the win and tie they earned against CC one month ago.

"They really pack in the students in the town there," Thomas said. "They really rally around them. It is a lot different than a lot of the teams in the WCHA, but that is the beauty of the league. All the venues are different and they all have their own difficulties. It will be my last visit to Houghton and, hopefully, we'll put in a good effort."

6 comments:

achsdu17 said...

Good luck to the Pios... let's have a good weekend and get ourselves focused on the prize at hand.

dggoddard said...

Let's hope the night in Green Bay inspired the team. Wonder if they visited Lambeau Field?

MeanEgirl said...

Hee! So me and a couple of my friends were driving back from the Blueline Luncheon... and we see a guy in a maroon jumpsuit. "He's gotta be a Pioneer!" we thought... and sure enough, he had the jelly donut on his jacket. We drove by him and yelled out something to the effect of "GO TIGERS!!" He turned around and looked at us... Smiling, sure enough. I think he was definitely in agreement. One more pass and we yelled something else out at him. He smiled at us. What a good sport. I wish I knew who it was. I was too busy looking at the road to see.

If I find out who that was, he might have to be my new Casey Borer. :)

dggoddard said...

Quit harassing our players. :-)

du78 said...

My understanding is that the team didn't get to Green Bay until last night. No time for tourist stuff.

MEg, stay away from Ruegsegger :-)
We will need him on his game in two weeks.

MeanEgirl said...

Dammit. If they give me reactions and attention when I'm giving them a hard time, I sure as hell am going to keep buggin' 'em. :)