After scrimmages, tournaments, exhibition games and a somewhat disappointing trip to the east coast, it was time for the DU Pioneers to finally return home and get into a regular season grove in front of the home fans. Alabama-Huntsville was DU’s opponent this weekend and the Chargers took the ice to try and prove that they should not be taken lightly. This surprisingly physical Charger team came to Denver and played a fierce, physical series. However the Pioneers would match them hit for hit and chalked up a few goals along the way. In the end, DU swept this banner raising, homecoming weekend 7-2 and 7-0.
Game one: Nine different DU players registered on the score sheet this Friday, but it was defensemen Ryan Caldwell (property of the New York Islanders) that provided the highlight goals and also added two assists to his stats. Caldwell’s secrete weapon is a secrete no longer as he ripped two almost identical fantastic slap shots past the blocker side of the Chargers goaltender.
Greg Keith provided the most memorable goal in the second period. Keith showed his rocket like speed as he stole the puck away from a Charger defender and cruised down the ice for a break away tally. This penalty filled game helped freshman Gabe Gauthier score his first NCAA goals with one on the power play and later in the same period, a two man advantage goal.
The scoring in the third period tapered off but the hits did not. Both teams wanted to send a message that there would be more battles to be fought in less than 24 hours. The only goal in the third was on a break away from J.J Hartmann. The pushing and shoving scrums continued past the end of the game as these two teams battled like old rivalries. In the end, the Pioneers out shot the Chargers 41 to 18.
Date: Oct 25, 2002 DU Vs. Alabama-Huntsville Score 7-2 Scoring for DU: 1st: Ryan Caldwell (Kevin Doell) Ryan Caldwell PP (Lukas Dora, J.J Hartmann) 2nd:Gabe Gauthier PP (Ryan Caldwell, Luke Fulghum) Lukas Dora (Aaron MacKenzie) Greg Keith (J.J Hartmann) Gabe Gauthier 5 on 3 (Jussi Halme, Lukas Dora) 3rd: J.J Hartman (Ryan Caldwell) Total Shots on Goal: DU 41 Alabama Huntsville 18 Three Stars: *** Gabe Gauthier ** Lukas Dora *Ryan Caldwell
Game two: “Improving on a good thing” could have been the theme of this night. Not only did the Pioneers continue to build on their offensive play but they also shut the door defensively as Jr goalie Adam Berkhoel registered his first shut out of the season and the Pioneers cruised to a 7-0 victory.
The group of sophomores, quite in game one, almost stole the show on Saturday with a collective 4 goals and 5 assist. However, veteran Sr forward, Kevin Doell was everywhere, scoring with everyone in just about everyway possible by racking up goals or assists in all but one of DU’s seven tallies.
“Improving on a good thing” could have also been the theme of the first intermission’s activities. The MacNaughton cup and the Broadmoor trophy were presented at center ice by the DU administration. The coaching staff and Captain Aaron MacKenzie proceeded to center ice to enthusiastically thank the fans but barely acknowledged the hardware on the table in front of them. The student section cheered wildly as the WCHA regular and post seasons banners were raised to the rafters but the Pioneers had already returned to the locker room to prepare for the second period. This was HISTORY and the DU Pioneers are only looking towards bigger and brighter things in the future.
Date: Oct 26,2002 DU Vs. Alabama-Huntsville Score 7-0 Scoring for DU: 1st:Kevin Doell PP (Connor James, Kevin Ulanski) Matt Weber (Kevin Doell) 2nd:Kevin Ulanski PP (Jeff Drummond, Kevin Doell) Connor James (Gabe Gauthier, Kevin Ulanski) 3rd:Jeff Drummond (Matt Weber, Kevin Doell) Connor James PP (Kevin Doell, Jeff Drummond) Matt Weber (Kevin Doell Ted O’Leary) Total Shots on Goal: DU 37 Alabama Huntsville 26 Three Stars: ***Matt Weber **Adam Berkhoel *Kevin Doell Weekend Goalie tandem Comparison: Friday: Dubielewicz 18 shots 16 saves .888% Sat: Berkhoel 26 shots 26 saves SO
Player Profiles: Greg Keith
His speed alone is enough to strike fear in most opposing net minders but this junior forward from British Columbia is way more than just a swift skater. When he’s not zooming past defensemen like an obstacle coarse, he’s reeking havoc by pounding guys into the boards. He takes as many hits as he gives and provides the team with leadership and camaraderie.
As warm-ups wind down, Keith stands at the Zamboni doors, giving a “good luck” glove slap to each teammate until every player is off the ice.
During the end of the third period of Saturday’s game, with the score already 7-0, Keith again busted loose for a chance at a short-handed break away goal. He blazed down the ice and around the net for an apparent wrap around attempt. Keith could of padded his stats and humiliated the Charges even further but in the spirit of team work and good sportsmanship, he choose instead to simply shuffle the puck back to center ice to a teammate, killing off more time on the penalty and insuring a shut out for his goaltender.
Alumni: Former DU captain, Mark Rycroft is beginning this season with a bang. Rycroft has already registered 3 goals and 2 assists in 5 games for the Worcester Ice Cats of the AHL
Up next: The DU Pioneers finally get to see some conference action next weekend as they travel to Wisconsin to take on the Badgers.
Looking ahead to December, the annual Denver Cup could wind up producing the key match up of the regular season. DU will host 3 other teams including the number one ranked New Hampshire Wildcats. If both teams should wind up in the championship round this could provide a vision of things to come in April, not to mention a scouting field day.
Injury update: Defenseman Brett Skinner and forwards Jon Foster and Greg Barber did not play this weekend due to injuries. All three players are suffering from knee injuries but none of them appear to be serious.
Side notes: Friday was free magnet schedule give away night. Saturday, during the second intermission, the Homecoming royalty was introduced at center ice.