Frozen Four Send-Off for DU Hockey
Pioneers head to Chicago ahead of Thursday night’s game
Fans braved the cold and snow on Tuesday to show support for the DU hockey team as they left for the Frozen Four in Chicago.
“I think it lets the players know that they are in special place,” says coach Jim Montgomery. “It’s an emotional feeling knowing that you have fellow students and other student athletes behind you.”
This is the second consecutive year the Pioneers have made college hockey’s version of the final four. Last year the team lost in the semifinals to North Dakota, the eventual national champion.
“The loss last year still hurts,” says senior forward Matt Marcinew. “We don’t want that feeling again this year, and each guy remembers it. We still let it burn a little bit and that motivates us this year.”
Not only does last year’s experience fuel the team, but it also helps them with preparation for the Frozen Four. They have a better understanding of the distractions that exist and the importance of maintaining a normal routine.
“Our preparation remains the same for all the games,” Marcinew says. “Just because we are going to the Frozen Four doesn’t mean we have to change everything. We have to prepare the same way because it got us this far.”
DU plays Notre Dame in the national semifinals on Thursday. Fans not attending the game at Chicago’s United Center can watch it on ESPN2 starting at 7:30 p.m. The Pioneers played the Fighting Irish twice last year, which helped Montgomery prepare the team for the Frozen Four.
“I’ve watched both of those games and they haven’t changed that much from how they played,” he says. “They are a better team in my opinion than they were last year, but so are we.”
The winner will face either Harvard or Minnesota-Duluth in the national championship game on Saturday. That game can be seen on ESPN and starts at 6 p.m. For the eight seniors on the team, this represents their last opportunity to bring home an eighth national title.
“I’ve been here for four years, and every year this has been the goal, to get here and to win a national championship,” Marcinew says. “It is something our team, myself and the coaches have been working for the last four years, and the three years prior have helped build to where things are now.”
Alumni chapters across the country will host watch parties for the Pioneers-Fighting Irish game on Thursday night. All parties are free to attend. For more information and to find the party nearest you, please click here.
Coach of the Year
On Tuesday, coach Jim Montgomery was named winner of the 2017 Spencer Penrose Award as Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Coach of the Year. In addition to returning to the Frozen Four for a second consecutive season, the fourth-year bench boss has compiled a 31-7-4 record this year and led the Pioneers to the NCHC regular season title. Montgomery will receive the award on April 26 during the American Hockey Coaches Association’s annual convention in Naples, Fla.
The Hobey Baker Award, recognizing college hockey’s top player, will be awarded Friday, April 7, in Chicago. Senior defenseman Will Butcher is one of three finalists for the award. Zach Aston-Reese, senior forward from Northeastern University, and Mike Vecchione, senior forward from Union College, also are finalists for the honor.