Frozen Four Appearance is Not Good Enough for DU Hockey
Pioneers ranked No. 3 coming into the new season
“Winning a national championship, that’s our expectation this year.”
Senior defenseman Will Butcher does not shy away from talking about the goal for this year’s DU hockey team. “Denver is always a championship expectation program no matter what year it is,” he says.
Despite losing two of the team’s top-three scorers from last year to the NHL draft, the Pioneers return five of last season’s top-six defensemen and both goaltenders. Butcher has been named one of college hockey’s top players to watch by NCAA.com. “I’m not trying to do too much and be a person that I’m not,” Butcher says. “I play like I did last year and just go out and lead by example and just stay true to who I am.”
DU coach Jim Montgomery welcomes the national attention the team is receiving, but says just making the Frozen Four is not good enough. “It’s a reflection upon and recognition of what we’ve done the past couple years,” he says. “It was nice getting to the Frozen Four, but we are not really satisfied with just getting to the Frozen Four. Our goal every year is to win a national title.”
While the Pioneers have plenty of experienced players back for the 2016–17 season, there is also a new group of freshmen that will see plenty of ice-time. Forwards Henrik Borgström and Liam Finlay should see plenty of action. This past off-season, Borgström became only the fourth Pioneer to be taken in the first round of the NHL draft.
“Borgström does things with the puck that you don’t normally see on the ice,” Montgomery says. “Finley is going to be exciting for a lot of people. He seems to be making plays every shift, so I think fans are going to be drawn to these guys.”
“I think all of our freshmen are great players and are going to do some special things for us,” Butcher says. “Borgström and Finley are going to be two great players for us and [Michael] Davies will be great on the back end.”
The Pioneers open the season at home on Friday, Oct 7, against Ohio State in the Icebreaker Tournament. The tournament includes both Air Force and Boston College. Next weekend, the team will play before a packed house as DU hosts Boston University on Friday and Saturday nights for homecoming weekend.
“It’s a great atmosphere here in Magness when you look up in the stands you see all the crimson and gold,” Butcher says. “The great culture we have had and have built since I was a freshman, just seeing the fans come back every year, stronger every year, is great to see.”
Montgomery says fans should expect to see a championship caliber team on the ice for every game. “I want them to see the hardest working team in college hockey, offensively and defensively. We want to put people on their heels.”