By its standards, Denver’s 2020-21 season was a disaster.
The Pioneers snapped a 22-year string of winning seasons and failed to qualify for the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2007.
But there’s still plenty of cause for optimism in the DU camp, as fourth-season coach David Carle’s first two teams finished with winning percentages in the mid-.600s, his team won’t be facing brutal NCHC opponents exclusively, and he has added several high-round NHL draft picks to help boost Denver back into NCAA Tournament contention.
View From the Glass takes a look at Denver in part II of its NCHC Snapshot series:
NCAA TITLES: 8 (1958, 1960, 1961, 1968, 1969, 2004, 2005, 2017).
COACH: David Carle (fourth season, 55-34-12).
2020-21 RECORD: 10-13-1, 9-12-1 in NCHC (fifth place).
RINK (capacity): Magness Arena (6,026), Denver, Colo.
MIAMI VS. DENVER LAST SEASON: 1-1.
ALL-TIME SERIES: Denver leads, 20-13-3.
SCHEDULE VS. MIAMI: At Denver – Nov. 19-20; At Miami – Jan. 28-29.
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: G Magnus Chrona, F Cole Guttman, F Carter Savoie, F Mike Benning, F Bobby Brink, D Mike Benning, D Antti Tuomisto, F Ryan Barrow.
KEY NEW FACES: D Sean Behrens, D Shai Buium, F Carter Mazur, F Jack Devine, F Owen Ozar, F Cameron Wright, G Matt Davis.
KEY LOSSES: F Kohen Olischefski, D Slava Demin, D Griffin Mendel, F Jaakko Heikkinen, F Steven Jandric, G Corbin Kaczperski.
NOTES: Denver should be in good shape offensively.
Five of the Pioneers’ top points producers from 2020-21 are returning, and they are adding a couple of potential studs.
Cole Guttman, a Tampa Bay draftee who led the team in points with 22, enters his senior season with 76 career points. Carter Savoie – selected by Edmonton – paced Denver with 13 goals as a freshman.
Three other NHL draftees are back, including Bobby Brink (Philadelphia), who tallied 11 points in just 15 games.
McKade Webster (nine points) and Brett Stapley (seven points) were selected by Tampa Bay and Montreal, respectively.
Carter Mazur joins Denver after being taken by Detroit in the third round, and he should make an immediate impact after a point-a-game USHL campaign at Tri-City.
Jack Devine is also one to watch after a standout career with the USNDT.
A pair of sophomores lead the way on defense for the Pioneers.
Mike Benning and Antti Tuomisto both recorded 11 points as freshmen. Benning is a Florida draftee, and Tuomisto was selected by Detroit.
But USNDT star Sean Behrens will challenge for a spot on DU’s top pairing after being taken No. 61 overall by in-city neighbor Colorado in July.
It will likely be Magnus Chrona’s net for the third straight season, as the junior owns a 2.28 goals-against average and a .915 career save percentage.
Denver’s other options in net are sophomore Jack Caruso (no relation to former Miami G Anthony Jacaruso), who logged just three minutes last season, and freshman Matt Davis (no relation to ex-RedHawk Matt Davis).
Davis has the inside track on eating into Chrona’s playing time after winning 20 games including three shutouts with USHL Green Bay in 2020-21.
The Pioneers have a strong returning corps and an impressive class of newcomers, so they should return to their elite status in both the NCHC and NCAA fields.
These teams met twice last season – both times in the Omaha Bubble – and after Miami dropped its sixth straight in the season series, 5-1, the RedHawks blanked Denver on Dec. 17 in one of their signature wins of the year.