Ship part

Boulding: Denver Pioneers Head to the “Ship”

It doesn’t happen every day, and sometimes it’s only for a short period of time, but this week the hottest hockey team in town is the Denver Pioneers.

Avalanche who?

Get out those crimson and gold people, because the Pios are heading to the NCAA Division I National Championship game after a hard-fought 3-2 victory in overtime against the University of Michigan Wolverines on Thursday in Boston.

Of course, the Avs recently clinched a playoff berth for the fifth straight campaign — after the unnamed 2016-17 season — and are in Canada to face the Winnipeg Jets and Edmonton Oilers, but out out of sight, out of mind, right?

Colorado’s hockey team with the most championships now has a chance to take home the title for the first time since 2017. And they only had to defeat the top-ranked club that had 13 draft picks. of the NHL, including seven first-rounders, guys like 2021 No. 1 pick Owen Power, No. 2 rookie Matthew Beniers, No. 4 pick Luke Hughes and No. 5 pick Kent Johnson — to make it happen .

On Feb. 18, I told you not to sleep on this Rocky Mountain town’s best-kept hockey secret, and I’m coming back to say the same thing today.

But this time, I don’t need to tell you how impressive the team’s regular season record was. I don’t need to brag about the talents of Carter Savoie (fourth in the country in goals) or Bobby Brink (Hobey Baker Award finalist) or Cole Guttman or Sean Behrens (Avs prospect) or Brett Stapley (who has 98 points) . I don’t have to sing the praises of goaltender Magnus Chrona (who has 50 wins). I don’t have head coach David Carle’s bench management to congratulate.

The proof is in the accomplishments, namely Denver’s fifth appearance in the last seven Frozen Four tournaments and the 12th trip to the “Ship”. The team did so by sweeping the NCAA West Regional in Loveland with wins over UMass Lowell and Minnesota Duluth.

Now they have a shot at winning the school’s ninth national title, which would tie them with…check marks…Michigan for the most in college hockey.

And get this! the the last time the Pioneers played a championship game in Boston was in 2004, when the team won the first of consecutive titles after a long drought (35 years!). It’s like it was meant to be…

In 2004, Coach Carle’s brother Matt was just a newcomer to the Pioneers with an NHL career on the horizon, and I was just a freshman watching on the couch at the House.

While I may have been wearing a Charlestown Chiefs jersey back then, I now have my 2004 National Champions Edition Pioneers jersey, and I may not take it off until Sunday.

So if you’re ready for a taste of the ultimate competition in meaningful college hockey, a chance to remember the thrill of a game where everything hangs in the balance, set an encore for Saturday. The Pioneers will face Minnesota State at 6 p.m. MT.

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