Rocky Mountain News Looks At Weekend Series

From: Rocky Mountain News
by Pat Rooney

(left) DU welcomes the University of Alaska-Anchorage to Magness Arena this weekend for a two game series

If ever there was a weekend in which the University of Denver hockey team seemingly could successfully weather severe manpower issues, this would be it.

But that is precisely the type of thinking that can drag struggling teams deeper into the mire, and it is a trap the Pioneers will attempt to avoid tonight and Saturday.

DU begins a Western Collegiate Hockey Association series tonight against last-place Alaska Anchorage at Magness Arena, and the Pioneers will hit the ice without three regulars in their lineup and possibly a fourth. That list does not include former leading scorer Brock Trotter, who left the program more than three weeks ago to sign a pro contract.

"We could put ourselves in real good shape if we put a good foot forward (today) and Saturday," senior captain Andrew Thomas said. "If we don't, if we come out with a lackadaisical effort, we can make things really tough for us coming down the stretch. We pride ourselves in the WCHA as being the strongest conference in the country. They're not going to be a pushover. They're still fighting for a better playoff position, and so are we."

The Pioneers have lost six of nine, severely crippling their chances to win the WCHA regular-season crown and nudging them further down the all-important PairWise rankings.

DU will attempt to get well this weekend without third-leading scorer Tyler Ruegsegger, who will miss his third consecutive series because of an abdominal injury, and possibly without sophomore defenseman Cody Brookwell, who has battled the flu all week.

Tonight, the Pioneers also will be without defenseman J.P. Testwuide and forward Brandon Vossberg, who will serve one-game suspensions for their actions during DU's fracas with North Dakota on Saturday. Vossberg needed four stitches above his left eye but, like Testwuide, is expected to return for the series finale Saturday.

"Brandon and J.P have played almost every single game for us this year, so when you take two regulars out of the lineup, it certainly makes it a little more of a challenge for everybody else," DU coach George Gwozdecky said. "We know certain areas of the game we weren't very good in last week, and we've worked hard at it this week. We'll be excited and prepared to play (tonight) and we'll go from there."

DU begins the weekend ranked sixth in the PairWise and anything short of four points against a Seawolves team that is winless in its past five games and has lost six consecutive road games ultimately might derail the Pioneers' chances of landing an NCAA tournament berth.

"We've talked since Christmas about the importance of every weekend, but it's really coming down to this weekend," Thomas said.


wwn said...

If DU can get some scoring, they could make a run in the postseason. Heck, even without Trotter and Ruegsegger, you guys put 5 goals on JPL.

achsdu17 said...

I just said this for the Avs same goes for the Pios... FOR THE SAKE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD AND RIGHT IN THE WORLD... WE GOT TO WIN THIS SERIES!