DU's Tournament Hopes Hang By A Sliver

From: Denver Post
by Mike Chambers

Travel plans for the University of Denver hockey team are on indefinite hold. Although discussing next season might seem premature for fans clinging to hope that the Pioneers will make the NCAA Tournament and play next week at the Pepsi Center's West Regional, realistically it's time to look ahead.

And the future is bright despite the disappointment of a season-ending slide. Assuming that three professional-caliber players return, the 2007-08 team could be among the best in coach George Gwozdecky's 13-year tenure. This season's top eight scorers and nine of the top 10 are scheduled to return, and junior goalie Peter Mannino, the 2005 Frozen Four MVP, could finally have goalie duties all to himself.

The Pioneers have just one senior defenseman in captain Adrian Veideman, and with the exception of winger J.D. Corbin and goalie Glenn Fisher, the rest of DU's seven-member senior class are role players.

However, after losing Brett Skinner, Matt Carle and Paul Stastny early to the pros over the past two years, it would not be surprising if DU loses more underclassmen. The biggest flight risks are Mannino, sophomore defenseman Chris Butler and junior center Ryan Dingle. Mannino (2.19 goals-against average) and Dingle (22 goals) are undrafted free agents, so they can negotiate with any NHL team. Butler's rights are owned by the Buffalo Sabres, who chose him in the fourth round in 2005.

Butler, 20, leads DU in ice time, blocked shots and points by a defenseman. He grew up in St. Louis with Stastny, who left DU last summer after his sophomore season.

"If last summer was an indication of how the NHL was going to approach the new (collective bargaining agreement), every team that has a draft pick, or considers a free agent a top prospect, is going to look at possibly pursuing these kids," Gwozdecky said. "We'll just have to wait out the NHL season, and the playoffs, and see what happens."

Survival scenario

DU could receive the No. 4 seed at the West Regional if the following events take place:

* Wisconsin beats Michigan Tech in the WCHA Final Five play-in game Thursday, but the Badgers fail to win the league tournament.

* St. Lawrence, seeded No. 1 in the ECACHL, and Michigan State, No. 3 in the CCHA, both lose two games in their respective tournaments.

* Dartmouth, Quinnipiac and Lake Superior State don't win their tournaments.


dggoddard said...

A North Dakota fan posed this question on USCHO.com

I wonder if they did it without any bonus for road wins. If you do it with the .003 bonus, plugging in the contingencies they outlined, with the top seeds winning the remaining games, DU comes in at 15t in the PWR. This still might be short. However, without the road bonus they come in at 13t and would make it.

Anonymous said...

DU might also need Air Force to beat Army for the Post's projection to work out.