New Faces and Players in New Roles for DU Hockey Team Hoping to Continue Success
Because of the way the quarter system is set up and NCAA regulations, the University of Denver hockey team’s preseason training camp is only three weeks—half the time of most of their competition.
But Pioneers coach David Carle doesn’t mind. In fact, it can be a valuable timetable for a team like his, one that’s added 10 freshmen and has new faces in key roles.
While most of the returning players spent the summer together in Denver, the freshmen were able to visit the Kennedy Mountain campus together as part of their first ascent before they started in the summer quarter, bonding with not only their fellow first-year athletes but also other incoming athletes.
On Sept. 11, they attended their first day of fall classes the same day they skated onto the ice for their first formal practice.
“They spent a night up [at the Kennedy Mountain Campus] and had a good time getting to know student athletes on other teams, and I think the chancellor (Jeremy Haefner) and athletic director (Josh Berlo) were there,” Carle says. “They enjoyed that experience, and I think the quarter system is great in a lot of ways. They get to have a couple weeks on campus and around the DU community without school or hockey going full bore. Then it gradually ratchets up, and they’ve done a nice job with that so far.”
Some of the 10 freshmen, including fifth-round NHL pick Sam Harris, will likely play an impactful role on the team replacing talent off last year’s NCAA Tournament squad that either graduated or left to play professionally. Coming off a national championship in the 2021-22 season, the Pioneers reached the NCAA Tournament again in the 2022-23 campaign, where they fell in the regional semifinal round.
Between injuries and illness last season, some players in key roles this year were able to get a small taste of game action. Goalie Matt Davis made 15 appearance and stepped in for eight starts when Magnus Chrona was hurt, finishing with an 8-1 record, a team-best 1.77 goals against average and even notching a shutout in a 5-0 win over Lindenwood.
With Chrona now part of the San Jose Sharks organization, Davis will take over as netminder for the Pioneers. Although the two goalies play different styles—Chrona is listed as 6-foot-5 and covers most of the net on his own, while the 6-1 Davis relies more on his reflexes and athleticism—the DU junior says he learned a lot about leadership and what it means to backstop a top hockey program.
“His professionalism on and off the ice was just top notch,” Davis says. “The way he carried himself was definitely a good lesson for me to learn to see what it takes to be successful.”
While there are plenty of new faces in key positions for the Pioneers, there is also plenty of returning talent. Massimo Rizzo, who led DU with 46 points last season, is back, part of six of the top 10 offensive players statically. Aidan Thompson, Jack Devine, Tristan Broz, Shai Buium and Sean Behrens were all back at training camp for the Pioneers.
Webster says even with new faces at camp, the expectations remain the same: the Pioneers are aiming for a record 10th national championship.
“The expectation for this program is to always win a national championship,” the captain says. “That’s our mission, and that’s our goal. Winning a national championship is where the bar is set.”
The quest for that championship will begin Saturday when the Pioneers travel to the Last Frontier and take on Alaska Fairbanks at 7 p.m. The Pioneers first home game is Oct. 27 against Augustana University with the puck dropping at 7 p.m. Tickets for the home opener are available online or by calling 303-871-4625. The box office opens four hours before puck drop.
Season tickets are still available for purchase online.