Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The United States Air Force Academy

Magness Arena, November 29, 2008
(above) Air Force Cadet Ice Arena

The No. 9 Denver Pioneers will host undefeated regional rival The #11 ranked US Air Force Academy from Atlantic Hockey Association in nonconference action on Nov. 29 at Magness Arena. Puck drop is set for 7:07 p.m. The game will be webcast live (fee) on and broadcast live on 560 AM.

DU is 27-3 against Air Force in the series that dates back to 1972, but last year Air Force ended DU's 19-game winning streak in the series with a 5-2 upset win last season at Cadet Ice Arena. Air Force teams always work exceptionally hard, and AFA players are always in peak physical condition, and now with more experienced players, Air Force is fast becoming a national caliber program.

Falcons to Watch
Air Force has outscored its opponents, 62-15, en route to its 12-0-0 perfect record. The Falcons and goaltender Andrew Volkening (12-0-0, 1.24 GAA, .944 Sv%) have held opponents to two goals or less in 11 games, including two shutouts. The Falcons boast three of the top four scorers in the nation in Brent Olson (5-16--21), Jacques Lamoureux (11-10--21) and Greg Flynn (4-15--19).

About The US Air Force Academy
The United States Air Force Academy (USAFA or Air Force) is an accredited college for the undergraduate education of officers for the United States Air Force. Its campus is located immediately north of Colorado Springs in El Paso County, Colorado, United States. The Academy's stated mission is "to educate, train, and inspire men and women to become officers of character motivated to lead the United States Air Force in service to our nation."

It is the youngest of the five United States service academies, having graduated its first class in 1959. Graduates of the Academy's four-year program receive a Bachelor of Science degree, and most are commissioned as second lieutenants in the United States Air Force. The Academy is also one of the largest tourist attractions in Colorado, attracting more than a million visitors each year

The Air Force Academy is among the most selective colleges in the United States. Many publications such as U.S. News and World Report do not rank the Academy directly against other colleges because of service academies' special mission. However, a few do; Forbes Magazine recently ranked the Academy 16th in the nation (just behind MIT and just ahead of Stanford and Pomona) in its "America's Best Colleges 2008" publication. Candidates for admission are judged on their academic achievement, demonstrated leadership, athletics and character. To gain admission, candidates must also pass a fitness test, undergo a thorough medical examination, and secure a nomination, which usually comes from one of the candidate's members of Congress. Recent incoming classes have usually consisted of about 1400 cadets; just under 1000 of those usually make it through to graduation. Cadets pay no tuition and receive a monthly stipend, but incur a commitment to serve years in the military service after graduation, usually for 5 years.

The program at the Academy is guided by its core values of "Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do," and based on four "pillars of excellence": military training, academics, athletics and character development. In addition to a rigorous military training regimen, cadets also take a broad academic course load with an extensive core curriculum in engineering, humanities, social sciences, basic sciences, military studies and physical education. All cadets participate in either intercollegiate or intramural athletics, and a thorough character development and leadership curriculum provides cadets a basis for future officership. Each of the components of the program is intended to give cadets the skills and knowledge that they will need for success as officers.

Prior to the Academy's establishment, air power advocates had been pushing for a separate air force academy for decades. As early as 1918, Lieutenant Colonel A.J. Hanlon wrote, "As the Military and Naval Academies are the backbone of the Army and Navy, so must the Aeronautical Academy be the backbone of the Air Service. In 1925, air power pioneer General Billy Mitchell testified on Capitol Hill that it was necessary "to have an air academy to form a basis for the permanent backbone of your air service and to attend to the…organizational part of it, very much the same way that West Point does for the Army, or the Naval Academy for the Navy. Mitchell's arguments did not gain traction with legislators, and it was not until the late 1940s that the concept of the United States Air Force Academy began to take shape.

Support for an air academy got a boost with the National Security Act of 1947, which provided for the establishment of a separate Air Force within the United States military. In January 1950, the Service Academy Board, headed by Dwight D. Eisenhower, then president of Columbia University, concluded that the needs of the Air Force could not be met by the two existing U.S. service academies and that an air force academy should be established.

Following the recommendation of the Board, Congress passed legislation in 1954 to begin the construction of the Air Force Academy, and President Eisenhower signed it into law on April 1 of that year. The original 582 sites considered were winnowed to three: Alton, Illinois; Lake Geneva, Wisconsin; and the ultimate site at Colorado Springs, Colorado. The Secretary of the Air Force, Harold E. Talbott, announced the winning site on June 24, 1954.

The Academy's permanent site had not yet been completed when the first class entered, so the 306 cadets from the Class of 1959 were sworn in at a temporary site at Lowry Air Force Base, in Denver on July 11, 1955. While at Lowry, they were housed in renovated World War II barracks.

The Class of 1959 established many other important traditions that continue until the present. Most notably, the first class adopted the Cadet Honor Code, and chose the falcon as the Academy's mascot.

The Vietnam War was the first war in which Academy graduates fought and died. As such, it had a profound effect on the development of the character of the Academy. Due to the need for more pilots, Academy enrollment grew significantly during this time. The size of the graduating classes went from 217 cadets in 1961 to 745 cadets in 1970.

One of the most significant events in the history of the Academy was the admission of women. On October 7, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed legislation permitting women to enter the United States service academies. On June 26, 1976, 157 women entered the Air Force Academy with the Class of 1980. Women have made up just over 20% of the most recent classes.

The campus of the Academy covers 18,000 acres on the east side of the Rampart Range of the Rocky Mountains, just north of Colorado Springs. Its altitude is normally given as 7,258 feet above sea-level, which is the elevation of the cadet area. The Academy was designed by architect Walter Netsch with the architectural firm of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill.

The buildings in the Cadet Area were designed in a distinct, modernist style, and make extensive use of aluminum on building exteriors, suggesting the outer skin of aircraft or spacecraft. On April 1, 2004, fifty years after Congress authorized the building of the Academy, the Cadet Area at the Academy was designated a National Historic Landmark.

The main buildings in the Cadet Area are set around a large, square pavilion known as the Terrazzo. The most recognizable building in the Cadet Area is the 17-spired Cadet Chapel. The subject of controversy when it was first built, it is now considered among the most beautiful examples of modern American academic architecture.

The organization of the Academy has characteristics of both a military unit and a civilian college. Like a civilian college, the students, called "cadets", are divided into four classes, based on their year in school. They are not referred to as freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors, however, but as fourth-, third-, second- and first class cadets, respectively. Fourth class cadets (freshmen) are sometimes referred to as "doolies," a term derived from the Greek word δουλος ("doulos") meaning "slave" or "servant. Members of the three lower classes are also referred to as "4 degrees," "3 degrees" or "2 degrees" based on their class. First-class cadets are referred to as "firsties." In the military structure of the Cadet Wing, first class cadets (seniors) act as the cadet officers, second class cadets (juniors) act as the cadet non-commissioned officers and third class cadets (sophomores) as cadet junior non-commissioned officers or senior airmen.

The Cadet Wing is divided into four cadet groups, of ten cadet squadrons each. Each cadet squadron consists of about 110 cadets, roughly evenly distributed among the four classes. Selected first-, second- and third-class cadets hold leadership, operational and support jobs at the squadron, group and wing levels. Cadets live, march and eat meals with members of their squadron, and take part in many activities, notably military training and intramural athletics, by squadron as well. Cadets' military training occurs throughout their time at the Academy, but is especially intense during their four summers.

The Air Force Academy is an accredited four-year university offering Bachelor's degrees in a variety of subjects. Approximately 75 percent of the Academy faculty is comprised of Air Force officers, with the remaining 25 percent civilian professors, visiting professors from civilian universities and instructors from other U.S. and allied foreign military services. In recent years, civilians have become a growing portion of senior faculty. All graduates receive Bachelor of Science degree, regardless of major, because of the technical content of the core requirements. Cadets may major in a variety of divisional, disciplinary or inter-disciplinary subjects, including majors in engineering, the basic sciences, social sciences and humanities. Traditionally, the academic program at the Air Force Academy (as with military academies in general) has focused heavily on science and engineering, with the idea that many graduates would be expected to manage complex aeronautical, space and communications systems.

Despite the exceptionally high standards expected of cadets, faculty and staff, and the fact that the selection processes are among the most thorough and most rigorous to be found, the Academy has not been immune from scandal. The first Honor scandal broke in 1965, when a resigning cadet reported knowing of more than 100 cadets who had been involved in a cheating ring. One hundred and nine cadets were ultimately expelled. Cheating scandals rocked the Academy again in 1967, 1972, 1984, 2005 and 2007. The sexual assault scandal that broke in 2003 forced the Academy to look more closely at how effectively women had been integrated into cadet life.

About The US Air Force Academy Hockey Program
The Falcons are in the 41st season of varsity hockey at the Air Force Academy, but the origins of Air Force Hockey date back to infancy of the Academy. In 1958, a group of cadets began an intramural hockey team. Relying on freezing temperatures and the shadows from the dormitory, cadets donned football and lacrosse equipment and played hockey in the courtyard of Vandenberg Hall.

A few years later one of the greatest college hockey coaches ever, Vic Heyliger, became interested in such a fledgling program. With six national championships to his credit at Michigan in the 1950s, the “Father of Air Force Hockey,” came to the Academy in 1966 and guided the club team.

At long last came the night of Nov. 29, 1968, when the first varsity hockey game was played at the newly built Cadet Ice Arena, part of the Cadet Fieldhouse complex. The Falcons defeated the Colorado All-Stars, a group of former collegiate players, 8-6. The first game was not without its share of quirky moments. During the first shift in the first period, a slap shot was taken and went completely through the “shatter-proof” glass and onto the running track in the multi-purpose area.

Officially classified as NCAA Division I independent since 1968, Air Force played a mixed schedule of Division I and Division II opponent for many years, until admission into College Hockey America in 1999-2000 and into Atlantic Hockey in 2006-2007 guaranteed a fuller slate of Division I opponents.

The Falcons finally got their first taste of intercollegiate competition in the new arena and it was not pleasant. Notre Dame, another first-year program, swept the Falcons, 8-1and 5-4. Air Force gained its first home win with a 6-4 win over Ohio State on Jan. 17, 1968.

The program continued to gain momentum, posting its first winning season in 1970-71 with a 15-11-2 record. However, it was the following season that would be the Falcons’ breakthrough year. Heyliger hired his former All-American player at Michigan, John Matchefts, as an assistant coach and the Falcons posted a 25-6 record in 1971-72.

A few years later, in Matchefts’ first season as head coach, the Falcons posted a 24-5-1 mark for the school’s best winning percentage. What will best be remembered from that team is a pair of dramatic one-goal wins over Colorado College.

Matchefts went on to win 154 games in 11 seasons before passing the baton to his former standout, Chuck Delich. Delich, who still ranks eighth in NCAA history in career scoring, shattered every school record in his four year career.

After taking over the program in 1985, Delich garnered early success much like his predecessor. In his second season, he posted a 19-10 record, the most wins in 10 years. He then strung together a school-record five consecutive winning seasons in his 12 years while tying the school record with 154 coaching wins. During the Delich years, the Falcons posted a winning record against rival Army, including a 6-1-1 record at home against the Black Knights.

The third decade of Falcon hockey brought several changes to the program. Former DU coach Frank Serratore (left), who has coached at nearly every level of hockey, took over in 1998. His enthusiastic, disciplined style of hockey injected a new energy into the program, and Serratore engineered the Air Force program into a conference play, first with College Hockey America in 1999, and later with Atlantic Hockey in 2006. Additionally, he was able to establish deeper recruiting of players with junior hockey experience, rather than players straight from high school hockey (as was the case with most of the AFA recruited players in the first 30 years). The additional experience of the junior players has been a huge boost to the national competitiveness of the program in recent years.

Serratore has led the Falcons to more Division I victories than any other Falcon coach. In Serratore’s 10th season, he took the program to new heights. The Falcons claimed the 2007 Atlantic Hockey Association championship and played Minnesota in the NCAA West Regional in Denver, both firsts for any service academy team.

Serratore backed that championship season up with another ring as the Falcons won the 2008 AHA title and faced Miami in the NCAA Northeast Regional. Both years, the Falcons scared two of the top teams in the nation, falling by just one goal each team, including one in overtime.

One of the key players for the recent transformation of Air Force hockey into a national level program was Eric Ehn, the most decorated hockey player in school history, Ehn, a forward, who was a Hobey Baker Hat Trick finalist in 2007, concluded his career last year with 146 points in 133 career games.

Air Force Traditions
Nickname and Mascot:
Members of the Air Force class of 1959, the first to enter the academy, picked the falcon as the mascot of the cadet wing in 1955. Later that fall, they enlisted the first falcon to serve the academy. The mascot was a peregrine falcon named “Mach 1," which refers to the speed of sound. Each bird that has served the academy has carried the Mach 1 name, but receives an individual name from the cadet group known as the falconers. The cadets that care for and train the mascots keep 12 to 15 falcons. For a falcon to be properly trained, the falconers spend an average of 300 hours of labor over a six-week period. Though they never completely domesticate the falcons, they train them to fly for more than an hour and make repeated stoops at a baited lure held by a cadet falconer.

Hailed as the NCAA’s only performing mascot, the Air Force Falcon is a crowd pleaser. The bird can achieve a speed of more than 200 miles per hour and makes the game day experience even more exciting by diving and zooming low over the heads of spectators. Besides the live falcon, a costumed Falcon mascot known as “The Bird” also serves in the Academy’s ranks, and is often seen parachuting into Falcon Stadium for football games.

Unlike many nicknames that have mysterious or meaningless origins, the Air Force Academy’s nickname suits perfectly. The qualities possessed by the falcon are reflected in many ways by the cadets the bird represents.

Falcons are known for unhesitatingly attacking and killing prey twice their size. Due to military weight standards, the Air Force teams are often smaller than the teams they play. Keen eyesight is another falcon characteristic that’s found in Air Force Cadets. Students at the academy must have perfect vision to fly our nation’s elite aircraft. The falcon’s heritage has also soared into the United States Air Force. Fittingly, one of the best weapons in the Air Force arsenal is the F-16 Fighting Falcon.

School Colors:
Blue and Silver

Fight Song: The US Air Force
Although not the Academy's official fight song, the first verse of the song is frequently played at Academy sporting events and at other functions, such as parades. "The U.S. Air Force" is the official song of the United States Air Force. It is informally known as "The Air Force Song," and is often informally referred to as "Into the Wild Blue Yonder", "Off We Go into the Wild Blue Yonder," or simply "Wild Blue Yonder."

Originally, the song was known as the 'Army Air Corps Song.' Captain Robert MacArthur Crawford wrote the lyrics and music in 1939. In 1947, the words "U.S. Air Force" in the title and lyrics replaced the original "Army Air Corps". On September 27, 1979, General Lew Allen, Jr., Chief of Staff of the Air Force, adopted it as the official song for the service.

In 1937, Assistant Chief of the Air Corps Brig. Gen. Hap Arnold persuaded the Chief of the Air Corps, Maj. Gen. Oscar Westover, that airmen needed a song reflecting their unique identity, and proposed a song competition with a prize to the winner. However, the Air Corps had no control over its budget, and could not give a prize. Liberty magazine stepped in, offering a purse of $1,000 to the winner.

Around 757 compositions were entered, and evaluated by a volunteer committee chaired by Mildred Yount, the wife of a senior Air Corps officer, and featuring several distinguished musicians. The committee had until July 1939 to make a final choice. However, word eventually spread that the committee found no songs that satisfied them, despite the massive number of entries. Arnold, who took over command of the Air Corps in 1938 after Westover was killed in a plane crash, solicited direct inquiries from contestants, including Irving Berlin, but not even Berlin's creations proved satisfactory. Just before the deadline, Crawford entered his song, which proved to be a unanimous winner.

Off we go into the wild blue yonder,
Climbing high into the sun;

Here they come zooming to meet our thunder,

At 'em boys,
Give 'er the gun!

Down we dive, spouting our flame from under,

Off with one hell of a roar!

We live in fame or go down in flame.

Nothing'll stop the U.S. Air Force!

Famous Air Force Academy Alumni

* Gen. Michael P.C. Carns, Class of 1959: Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force
* Lt. Gen. Bradley C. Hosmer, Class of 1959: The first graduate in the order of merit in the first class at the Academy, the Academy's first Rhodes Scholar and the first graduate to return to the Academy as Superintendent
* Gen. Hansford T. Johnson, Class of 1959: The first graduate to be promoted to the rank of general (four-star); assistant secretary of the Navy for Installations and Environment 2001-2005, and Acting Secretary of the Navy in 2003
* Gen. Robert C. Oaks, Class of 1959: Commander of Air Training Command and United States Air Forces in Europe
* Gen. George L. Butler, Class of 1961: Commander, United States Strategic Command
* Gen. Ronald R. Fogleman, Class of 1963: The first graduate to be selected as Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force, serving in that position from 1994-1997
* Gen. Howell M. Estes III, Class of 1965: Commander, United States Space Command
* Capt. Lance Sijan, Class of 1965: Prisoner of war during the Vietnam War, and the first graduate to be awarded the Medal of Honor. His story is told in the book Into the Mouth of the Cat by Malcom McConnell.
* Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, Class of 1973: Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force, 2008-
* Gen. Duncan J. McNabb, Class of 1974: Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force

35 Air Force Academy graduates have become astronauts - Here are some of them:

* Karol J. Bobko, Class of 1959: The first graduate in space, and the only astronaut to have flown on the maiden flight of two space shuttle orbiters
* Frederick D. Gregory, Class of 1964: Former Deputy Administrator of NASA, former acting Administrator for NASA, commander of two space shuttle missions, the first African-American to pilot the space shuttle and the first African-American to command any space vehicle
* Roy D. Bridges, Jr., Class of 1965: Director of NASA's Kennedy Space Center from 1997-2003 and Director of NASA's Langley Research Center from 2003-2005.
* Dr. Ronald M. Sega, Class of 1974: Former Under Secretary of the United States Air Force
* Gen. Kevin P. Chilton, Class of 1976: Currently serving as Commander, U.S. Strategic Command
* Brig. Gen. Susan J. Helms, Class of 1980: Space flights included 163 days aboard the International Space Station; currently serving as Commander, 45th Space Wing
* Steven W. Lindsey, Class of 1982: Two space flights as shuttle pilot, including flight with Sen. John Glenn. Another two spaceflights as commander, including the recent STS-121

Government, law and politics
* T. Allen McArtor, Class of 1964: Former Administrator of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration; former CEO, Legend Airlines; current chair, Airbus, North American Holdings
* Gary A. Grappo, Class of 1972: U.S. Ambassador to Oman
* John C. (Chris) Inglis, Class of 1976: Deputy Director of the U.S. National Security Agency
* Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM), Class of 1982: The first graduate to be elected to the United States Congress and currently the only female veteran serving in Congress

Business and industry
* Richard T. Schlosberg, Class of 1965: Former president and CEO of the David & Lucile Packard Foundation and former publisher and CEO of the Los Angeles Times
* Charles E. Phillips Jr., Class of 1981: President of the Oracle Corporation
* Scott Kirby, Class of 1989: President of US Airways Group

* Gregg Popovich, Class of 1970: Head coach of the NBA's San Antonio Spurs who led the team to NBA championships in 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007, and won the NBA Coach of the Year Award for the 2002-2003 season.
* Randall W. Spetman, Class of 1976: Athletic Director at Florida State University.
* Alonzo Babers, Class of 1983: Winner of two gold medals (400m and 4×400m relay) at the 1984 Olympics
* Chad Hennings, Class of 1988: Winner of the Outland Trophy; played nine seasons for the Dallas Cowboys and earned three Super Bowl rings; 2006 inductee into the College Football Hall of Fame.
* Troy Calhoun, Class of 1989: Head coach of the Air Force football team; former offensive coordinator for the Houston Texans.

About Colorado Springs, Colorado
Colorado Springs is the county seat and most populous city of El Paso County, Colorado. At 372,437, it is the second most populous city in the State of Colorado behind Denver and the 47th most populous city in the United States. In 2007.the Colorado Springs area had a population of 609,096. The city is situated near the base of one of the most famous American mountains, Pikes Peak, at the eastern edge of the southern Rocky Mountains.

While noted for its exceptional natural beauty and climate, Colorado Springs is not exempt from the problems that typically plague cities that experience tremendous growth: overcrowded roads and highways, crime, sprawl, and government budget issues. Many of the problems are indirectly or directly caused by the city's difficulty in coping with the large population growth experienced in the last 20 years.

It is a well known as a conservative city, as it is dominated by large military installations including Fort Carson, NORAD and the United States Air Force Academy, which make up the largest employers in the city. Also, a large percentage of Colorado Springs' economy is also based on high tech and manufacturing complex electronic equipment, second to the military in terms of total revenue generated and employment.

Additionally, a large number of religious organizations such as Focus on the Family and churches make their headquarters here, particularly Evangelical Christians, as well as serving as the headquarters for the US Olympic Committee and many national sports governing bodies.
Colorado Springs was founded in August 1871 as a residential community by General William Palmer, with the intention of creating a high quality resort community to benefit from the mountain location, his railroad and the proximity to mining affluence from a previous gold strike at nearby Colorado City. The flow of gold and silver ebbed as the decades passed, and Colorado City's economic fortunes faded with it; the miners and those who processed the ore left or retired. Because of the healthy natural scenic beauty, mineral waters, and extremely dry climate, Colorado Springs became a tourist attraction and popular recuperation destination for tuberculosis patients.
The Game

The 31st meeting between DU and AFA marks the first time in series history that both teams will be ranked, and Air Force heads into the CC/DU weekend as the lone unbeaten NCAA Division I hockey team at 12-0-0. DU is 18-2 against the Falcons in Denver dating back to 1972, and DU has historically had little trouble with Air Force in the first 25 years of the series, but that is changing rapidly with the ascension of the Air Force program.

Air Force ranks No. 1 in the nation in scoring at an incredible 5.17gpg, while Denver is No. 8 at 3.38 gpg. Air Force is No. 3 in defense at 1.25 gpg, and Denver is No. 27 at 2.62 gpg. On paper, this would appear to be mismatch in Air Force’s favor, but it’s fair to speculate that at least part of Air Force’s dominant numbers are a result of a schedule that has yet to see the Falcons play a team from a major conference, let alone a ranked team. That said, the AFA’s large margins of victory have been impressive so far, and I have every reason to expect that Air Force will be a very, very formidable test for the Pioneers.

DU Coach Gwozdecky has even gone so far as to call his team “underdogs” in the contest in the media this week, and given Air Force’s 5-2 beat down of the Pioneers last season, I am sure the Pioneers have many incentives to gain some revenge this weekend. Playing at home, I think the Pioneers should be sufficiently motivated, and Air Force will likely have had an intense game the night before against CC.

DU is coming off a Jekyll-and-Hyde split with Minnesota, where Friday, DU was awful in a 5-2 loss, but after a players-only team meeting and coach Gwozdecky’s benching of four regulars the next night, the Pioneers played great hockey in shutting out the top-ranked Gophers, 4-0. I would expect to see Patrick Mullen return to the lineup this weekend as a puck-moving defenseman with Patrick Wiercioch’s duties likely limited to the power-play only due to an upper-body injury.

The Falcons play a relentless forechecking game, and rely on goalie Andrew Volkening (12-0-0, 1.24 GAA, .944 Sv%) to keep the puck out, so expect Denver to look for transition opportunities and a strong first pass out of the zone to try and exploit the Falcons playing in the zone too deeply.

Prediction: Denver 5, Air Force 4

The Colgate University Raiders

Magness Arena, November 28, 2008
(above) Starr Rink on the campus of Colgate University

The No. 9 Denver Pioneers (7-5-1) host Colgate (4-4-2) from the ECAC in nonconference action on Nov. 28 at Magness Arena. Puck drop is set for 7:37 p.m. against Colgate on Nov. 28 The game will be webcast live (fee) on and broadcast live on 560 AM.

Denver is 3-1 all-time against Colgate in the series that started in 1969. DU defeated Colgate, 3-2, in the last meeting on Oct. 7, 2006, at the Ice Breaker Invitational in Oxford, Ohio. The Raiders visit Denver for the first time since Jan. 3-4, 1969.

Raiders to Watch
The Raiders are winless in their last five games at 0-3-2 after starting the season 4-1. Brian Day, a sixth round draft pick of the New York Islanders, is the best-known forward for the Raiders, and Austin Smith and David McIntyre join Day in leading Colgate in scoring with eight points each, while Quebecker Francois Brisebois has added seven points and a team-leading three power-play goals. Junior goaltender Charles Long has a 3-4-2 record with a 1.87 GAA and .924 Saves percentage.

About Colgate University
Colgate University is a small private liberal arts colle ge of 2,800 primarily undergraduate students located in the Village of Hamilton in Madison County, in central New York’s Chenango Valley. It was founded in 1819 as a Baptist seminary, but has since become non-denominational. And yes, the name of the school comes from the same family as the toothpaste…

In 1817, the Baptist Education Society of the State of New York was founded by 13 men (six clergymen and seven laymen). Two years later, in 1819, the state granted the school's charter, and in 1820, the school was opened. In 1823, Baptists in New York City (including William Colgate, who created the Colgate-Palmolive company, makers of soap and toothpaste) moved their seminary to Hamilton, NY to form the Hamilton Literary and Theological Institution. This was the beginning of the Colgate family's involvement with the school.

The school changed its name to Madison University in 1846. In 1850, the Baptist Education Society planned to move the university to Rochester, but was halted by legal action. Dissenti ng trustees, faculty, and students founded the University of Rochester.

After seven decades of the Colgate family's involvement with the school, Madison University changed its name to Colgate University in 1890 in honor of William Colgate and his two sons, one of whom, J. B. Colgate (left), established the Dodge Memorial Fund of $1,000,000. The theological side of Colgate merged with the Rochester Theological Seminary in 1928 to become the Colgate Ro chester Divinity School, leaving Colgate to become non-denominational. In 1970, Colgate became coeducational.

About 95% of seniors graduate and most alumni proceed to graduate schools in law, administration, engineering, medicine, the arts and the sciences, as well as to financial, administrative or scientific occupations.

As of 2008, Colgate is ranked 18th in the U.S. News and World Report ranking of liberal arts colleges in the United States and 44th in the Forbes ranking of all U.S. universities.

About The Colgate University Hockey Program
Colgate began playing hockey in 1916, playing without a coach at first, and played only in sporadic years for the next 15 years, accumulating only about 35 total games prior to the 1932 season. At that point, J. Howard Starr took over the program as coach. During his tenure at Colgate, Starr established himself as the then-winningest hockey coach in Raider history. He guided the program for 15 seasons (1932-42, 1945-50) while posting an overall record of 86-72-4 including one undefeated season. His squads won the Lake Placid Intercollegiate Ice Hockey Tournament four consecutive years (1938-41).

After Starr left temporarily as coach in 1942, Greg Batt, a player on the 1942 Colgate team, took over as player-coach. Batt is considered one of the greatest hockey players in Colgate history. Batt guided the Red Raiders to an undefeated 11-0-0 season in 1943-43 . It is acknowledged that the 52 goals and 36 assists he scored in that campaign constitute an all-time Colgate record for goals, assists and points in one season. Batt was later invited to play in the 1948 Olympic Games. He also lettered three years in baseball and tennis, and would later become coach at nearby Hamilton College until the early 1980s.

Starr returned to coach Colgate in 1945, and led Colgate to a second undefeated season in 1946-47 at 14-0 and won the national AAU Championship, in the last season before the NCAA began hosting a National Tournament in 1948.

Colgate entered a fairly grim period throughout the 1950s, with no winning seasons until the 1961-62 squad went 18-6 in the newly constituted ECAC under coach Olav Kollevall. Perhaps the biggest bright spot of the ‘50s was the opening of Starr Rink in 1959, which while renovated in the 1990s, is still the hockey home of the Raiders. Starr Rink was one several arenas used in the filming of the 1977 cult hockey classic film, “Slap Shot”.

Coach Kollevall had some pretty good teams in the early 1960s, and his 1962-63 squad was the first Colgate team to go to the ECAC playoffs at 16-5-1. But the good times didn’t last long, as the Raiders fell into another long fallow period, with only two winning seasons between 1964 and 1978.

In 1977, Terry Slater, a 1961 St. Lawrence all-American player from Kirkland Lake, Ont. became coach of the Raiders, a job he would hold until December of 1991, when he died on his 54th birthday, four days after suffering a tragic stroke at his home.

Slater had some good teams in his early years, including the 1980-81 team, that went 21-12-2 and made it to the NCAA tournament for the first time as a #4 seed, losing in the quarterfinals to Minnesota in Minneapolis by 9-4 and 5-4 scores in the two-game, total-goals series.

Slater would later guide the Raiders to 12 more winning seasons in his next 14 years as coach, racking up 280 wins, 180 losses and 23 ties. In the calendar year before he died, Slater guided the Raiders to the best season in school history in 1989-90, when the Raiders went 31-6-1, cruised to the ECAC regular season title, and the won ECAC tournament title in Boston behind the goaltending of Dave Gagnon. As host of an NCAA quarterfinal series as a #2 seed, the Raiders beat Lake Superior State, 3-2 and 2-1 in the two-game total goals series to advance to the Frozen Four in Detroit. In the national semi-final against Boston University, the Raiders edged the Terriers 3-2 in a thriller, setting up a showdown with Wisconsin in the NCAA final. Unfortunately for Colgate, the Raiders took a series of early penalties. The opportunistic Badgers jumped on the Raiders for some power play goals, jumping out to a 4-1 lead in the first 10 minutes of the game and crushing the hopes of the Raider faithful en route to a 7-3 final score.

Current coach Don Vaughan took over the program in 1992-1993, and after a pair of down years, returned Colgate to six straight winning seasons, culminating in 2000, when the Raiders went 24-9-2 and returned to the NCAA tournament as a #4 seed, taking Michigan to overtime before falling 3-2 in Albany, NY.

Vaughan returned to the NCAA tournament as a #4 seed in 2004-2005, when the Raiders went 25-11-3 and fell to Colorado College 6-5 in the NCAA regional in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Colgate Traditions
Nickname and Mascot:
For much of its history, Colgate's sports teams were called the "Red Raiders." The origin of the name is disputed: some claim it was in reference to the school color (maroon); others believe it was a reference to the team's ability to defeat its much larger rival, the Cornell University "Big Red." However, the controversial Native American mascot reflected a third possibility. In the 1970s, the school debated changing the name and mascot due to concerns that it was offensive to Native Americans. At that time the name was kept, but the mascot was changed from a Native American to a hand holding a torch. In 2001, a group of stud ents approached the administration with the concern that the name "Red Raiders" still implied a Native American mascot. The school agreed to drop the word "Red" from the team name starting in the 2001-02 school year, due to concerns about the lingering association of "Red" with previously used Native American iconography (whether or not the use of the term "Red" was intended as such). A new mascot, a red-haired, lantern-jawed costumed colonial man called “Raider” with a tricorn hat, was introduced in 2006-07

The number 13 is considered to be lucky to Colgate. It is said that Colgate was founded by thirteen men with thirteen dollars and thirteen prayers. This manifests itself in a number of ways, such as Colgate's address (13 Oak Drive); zip code, 13346, which begins with 13 and the last 3 numbers add up to 13.

School Colors:
The early Colgate color was orange, but a Special School Committee on Colors decided to adopt “Colgate Maroon” on March 24, 1900. Gray was added later.

Fight Song Lyrics:

Words by F. AL Hubbard 1905
Music by R. L. Smith 1912

Hark the strains of martial music ringing, Sounds of voices raised in joyous singing, Colors proudly waving to the sky, A host is drawing nigh. Just watch them; They march and sing along a triumph song, It is the wearers of the old Maroon And this is what they sing: Chorus: Fight, fight, fight for dear old Colgate! With heart and hand now we'll win for thee! Oh, we will fight, fight, fight for Alma Mater, On to victory we're marching! Fo es shall bend their knee before us, And pay their homage to pow'r so great, So let us send out a cheer and banish all fear, While we are fighting hard for old Colgate. Famous Colgate alumni Arts and Business

* Charles Addams (1933), New Yorker cartoonist known for macabre drawings and inspiring the “Addams Family” TV and Movie franchise
* Bob Balaban, television and movie actor
* Gillian Vigman (1994), actor/comedian ("Sons and Daughters", "MADtv")
* John Marks (1931), creator of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," etc.
* Francesca Zambello (1978), opera director, manager
* Jay Chandrasekhar (1991), director (Super Troopers, "Arrested Development", Club Dread)
* Kevin Heffernan (1990), actor/comedian (Super Troopers, Club Dread, Beerfest)
* Broken Lizard, comedy troupe (Super Troopers, Club Dread, Beer Fest)
* Chris Paine (1983), documentary filmmaker (Who Killed the Electric Car?)
* Peter Rowan, bluegrass musician, songwriter ("Panama Red")
* Lawrence Bossidy (1957), chairman, CEO, Honeywell International; former CEO, AlliedSignal Inc.
* Ben Cohen (1973), co-founder and president, Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream (did not graduate)
* Cyrus Eaton (1941), chairman, Eaton Corp.
* Armand Zildjian (1944), former head of the Avedis Zildjian Company
* Ed Werner (1971) and John Haney (1972), co-inventors of Trivial Pursuit

* A. Peter Burleigh (1963), U.S. ambassador to the Philippines
* James Courter (1963), former New Jersey congressman and candidate fo r governor
* Louis Frey (1955), former congressman from Florida
* Charles Evans Hughes (1884), chief justice, U.S. Supreme Court 1930-41
* Peter Peyser (1943), former U.S. congressman 1971-77, 1979-83
* Adam Clayton Powell (1930), Pioneering African American N.Y. congressman
* William P. Rogers (1934), former U.S. secretary of state under Nixon
* Dean P. Taylor (1925), U.S. Congressman, New York 1943-1961

* Gloria Borger (1974), U.S. News & World Report, Washington Week, CBS special correspondent
* Monica Crowley (1990), Richard Nixon biographer; political and international affairs analyst, FOX
* Michael Gordon (1972), chief military correspondent, bestselling author, New York Times
* Howard Fineman (1970), chief political correspondent, senior editor, Newsweek
* Andy Rooney (1942), CBS-TV: 60 Minutes commentator, columnist
* Bob Woodruff (1983), ABC News foreign correspondent
* Joe Castiglione (1968), former TV play-by-play man for the Cleveland Indians, currently radio play-by-play man for the Boston Red Sox


* David Conte (1971), Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations and Director of Scouting for the New Jersey Devils
* Rich Erenberg (1984), former running back, Pittsburgh Steelers
* Dan Fortmann (1936), Hall of Fame guard, Chicago Bears in the 1930s
* Adonal Foyle (1998), center, Orlando Magic
* Kenny Gamble (1988), former running back, Kansas City Chiefs, also an assistant athletic director at Colgate and executive with Reebok
* Bruce Gardner (1994), former forward, St. Louis Blues, Ottawa Senators, Tampa Bay Lightning, Columbus Blue Jackets, and New Jersey Devils
* Greg Manusky (1988), former linebacker, Washington Redskins, Minnesota Vikings, and Kansas City Chiefs, now defensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers
* Andy McDonald (2000), center for the St. Louis Blues
* Mike Milbury (1970), former defenseman for the Boston Bruins, forme r coach for Boston and the New York Islanders, former General Manager of the Islanders, and TV analyst for ESPN, NBC, TSN, and NESN
* Mark Murphy (1977), former safety, Washington Redskins, former Athletic Director at Colgate and Northwestern University, President of the Green Bay Packers
* Steve Poapst (1991), former defenseman, Chicago Blackhawks
* Eugene Robinson (1985), former safety, Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers, and Seattle Seahawks
* Mark van Eeghen (1974), former running back, Oakland Raiders
* Ernest Vandeweghe (1949), former player for New York Knicks, former surgeon for L.A. Lakers

About Hamilton, New York
Hamilton is a town in Madison County, New York, United States. Hamilton is situated in the heart of New York State’s leather stocking country, made famous in th e writings of James Fenimore Cooper. The population was 5,733 at the 2000 census. The town is named after the American patriot, Alexander Hamilton. Much of the town serves Colgate University. The location was formerly called Payne's Corners.

The Town of Hamilton was established in 1795, before the county was formed, from the Town of Paris in Oneida County, New York. The original town was reduced to create new towns in the county. Hamilton is located in the center of New York State on Route 12B, just 20 miles south of the New York State Thruway (I-90) and 30 miles east of I-81. Homes, shops and a country inn center on a village green that is the site of a weekly farmer’s market.

The Game
Having not seen the Raiders play this year, it’s hard to know what kind of Colgate team will show up in Denver as the first stop in a two-game Colorado swing against DU (Friday) and CC (Saturday). Will we see the Colgate team that went 4-1 to start the season, or the more recent 0-3-2 team that has played the last 5 games?

Against ranked teams this November, Colgate lost to then #9 Princeton 2-1 on OT, then lost and tied against #14 Cornell 4-1, and 2-2, then tied #18 Harvard 2-2 in last weekend, so chances are, even when it doesn’t go the Raider’s way, it’s a close game.

“We have to be focused and ready to play,” said Colgate head coach Don Vaughan. “We are looking forward to the challenge of facing two top 10 teams (in Denver and Colorado Springs)

The Raiders, 4-4-2 overall, head out west following a 1-0 loss to Dartmouth and a 2-2 tie to then 18th-ranked Harvard, last weekend at Starr Rink. Colgate will bring one of the nation’s most stingy defenses into the weekend. Led by a veteran laden cast of blueliners and goalie Charles Long, the Raiders have allowed 1.90 goals per game, which ranks in a tie for 11th nationally. Colgate’s penalty kill remains one of the top in the country as well. The Raiders, also tied for 11th, have successfully killed off 57 of 62 attempts against, including 21 of their last 22.

Long has started nine of the first 10 games and sports a 1.87 goals against average and a .924 save percentage. The junior is 16th in the country in goals against average.

DU is coming off a Jekyll-and-Hyde split with Minnesota, where Friday, DU was awful in a 5-2 loss, but after a players-only team meeting and coach Gwozdecky’s benching of four regulars the next night, the Pioneers played great hockey in shutting out the top-ranked Gophers, 4-0. The Pioneers have the nation’s eighth best offense (3.38 GPG), and the game may hinge on the effectiveness of DU’s power play against Colgate’s 11th best PK. (92%). Goaltender Marc Cheverie, who this year has been up and down, appears to be righting the ship, and I would expect to see Patrick Mullen return to the lineup this weekend as a puck-moving defenseman with Patrick Wiercioch’s duties likely limited to the power-play only due to an upper-body injury.

With the confidence coming off shutting out the nation’s best team last weekend, and playing on home ice, Denver certainly would be the favorite on paper. However, with the students away from campus on winter break and a heated local rivalry game looming on Saturday against Air Force, a classic “trap scenario” awaits the Pioneers if they are not totally focused on the Raiders.

Prediction: Denver 3, Colgate 2 (OT)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The University of Minnesota Golden Gophers

Magness Arena, November 21-22, 2008
(above) Mariucci Arena is the crown jewel of hockey palaces in the "State Of Hockey"

The No. 10 Denver Pioneers (6-4-1, 4-3-1 WCHA) return to Denver host the No. 1 University of Minnesota Golden Gophers in WCHA action on Nov. 21-22 at Magness Arena. Puck drop is slated for 7:37 p.m. MT on Friday and 7:07 p.m. on Saturday. Both games will be televised live on FSN Rocky Mountain and FSN North (Minnesota).

Minnesota owns a 92-63-12 advantage in Gophers are 38-37-6 against DU in Denver. DU is 5-4-1 in its last 10 games against Minnesota and 2-2-2 in the last six meetings at Magness Arena. The Pioneers have held the Golden Gophers to one goal or less in six of ththe all-time series that dates back to 1951. The Goldene last seven meetings.

Gophers to Watch

The Minnesota Golden Gophers have yet to lose a league game at 5-0-3 in the WCHA after last weekend’s tie (2-2 ot) and win (3-0) over Michigan Tech. The 3-0 shutout was the first of goaltender Alex Kangas’ career at Minnesota. Kangas is probably the second best goalie in the league after CC’s Richard Bachman. Kangas leads the WCHA in overall goals against average (1.84) and winning percentage (.800), while ranking second to Bachman in saves percentage (.936). Junior forward Ryan Stoa, an Avalanche Draft pick, is the leader of the Gophers, and also leads the WCHA with nine goals and is tied for second in overall scoring with 9-7--16. Freshman phenom Jordan Schroeder leads the nation in rookie scoring at 1.40 points per game and Cade Fairchild has added 2-8--10 from the blueline.

About The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (Minnesota, U of M or The “U” (locally) is the oldest, largest and flagship campus of the University of Minnesota system. It sits astride the Mississippi River on two campuses in the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. Its student body is the fourth largest in the United States according to Fall 2007 statistics, with 50,880 students. As of 2006, the university had sixteen schools and colleges.

In August 2008, US News & World Report's 2009 Rankings placed the undergraduate program of The University of Minnesota as the 61st best National University in the United States.

The university was chartered in 1851, but it did not begin enrolling students until 1857. The original Minneapolis campus overlooked the Saint Anthony Falls on the Mississippi River, but it was later moved about a mile downstream to its current location. The original site is now marked by a small park known as Chute Square at the intersection of University Avenue and Central Avenue. The school shut down following a financial crisis during the American Civil War, but reopened in 1867 with considerable financial help from John S. Pillsbury. It was upgraded from a preparatory school to a college in 1869. Today's campus has buildings on both banks of the river, but the East Bank is the main portion of the campus and covers 307 acres.

About The University of Minnesota Hockey Program
(left) Hockey legends Herb Brooks, John Mariucci & "Badger" Bob Johnson all played for the University of Minnesota

Minnesota is, in my opinion, the important college hockey program in America. While other college hockey programs are important to their state or area, Minnesota has the largest fan base, the largest TV impact, and most importantly, is vital cog for the culture of hockey in America – financing the WCHA through the hosting of the Final Five, maintaining a Big 10 presence of credibility, and enabling the growth of American hockey by setting the bar for the development of hockey in other states.

As such, it is helpful to delve in Gopher history to get a feel for how this came about. Historians Don Clark and Ross Bernstein have written much of the history of hockey in Minnesota, and their work is summarized below with a few additions and edits of my own.

Minnesota, with its thousands of lakes and ponds, was an ideal place for the newly formed game of ice hockey to prosper. Shinny, and organized game, had been played in the state since the Civil War. Ice polo had been popular in St. Paul and Minneapolis since the early 1880’s. It was a matter of time before the University of Minnesota would display an interest in the sport. Such concern manifested itself when the first University of Minnesota team, unsanctioned by the college, was organized in January of 1895 by Dr. H. A. Parkyn, who had played the game in Toronto. Prior to meeting the Winnipeg Seven, the newly formed Minnesota team played three games against the Minneapolis Hockey Club, with the collegians winning two and losing one game.

An early newspaper account of the game:
“The first international hockey game between Winnipeg and the University of Minnesota was played yesterday, and won by the visitors 11-3. The day was perfect and 300 spectators occupied the grandstand, coeds of the University being well represented… Hockey promises to become as popular a sport at the University as football, baseball, and rowing.”

Early 1900s efforts to play hockey at Minnesota were sporadic and the season of 1903 proved to be the last of ice hockey on a formal basis for a period of nearly 2 decades. In 1910 efforts were made to revive the sport and to interest the Universities of Chicago and Wisconsin in the sport, so as to furnish Big Ten Intercollegiate Conference competition. This move met with failure.

After much deliberation the U of M Athletic Board of Control finally adopted ice hockey as a varsity sport for the 1921-1922 season. The team played 10 games, winning seven and losing three. Among the club's defeated were Wisconsin, Luther Seminary, Hamline and the Michigan Mines, while losses were suffered to Hamline and the Michigan Mines. Minnesota challenged the University of Michigan to play for a Big Ten title, but the Wolverines would not meet the Gophers.

Emil Iverson, who later coached the Chicago Blackhawks of the NHL would coach the Gophers in the 1920s. Iverson's seven-year stay saw the Gophers win 70, lose 20 and tie 13 games. Captain Frank Pond and goalie Fred Schade led Iverson's first team of 1923-1924 to a 13-1-0 season, while for the following season of 1924-1925 most of the home games were played at the newly constructed Minneapolis Arena, off campus in downtown Minneapolis. Captain Ed Olson led the 1925-1926 Gopher team to an undefeated season by winning 12 and tying 4 games. The 1928-1929 six shared top National honors with Yale as they compiled an 11-2-1 record. During the six seasons of 1923-1924 through 1928-1929 they lost only 10 games, won 75 and tied 11. During this period Minnesota was consistently ranked among the very best in the nation in the day before a national tournament had been conceived.

During the 1920s the Gophers played their games at a variety of rinks, including an outdoor facility located on the campus. Early in the decade games were played at the Minneapolis Coliseum, while later many games were played at the large natural ice surface at the Hippodrome at the State Fairgrounds. While the opening of the Minneapolis Arena, which possessed artificial ice, in late 1924, the Gopher home games were played there or at the Hippodrome. A large number of Gopher players during this era came from Minneapolis, with fewer from St. Paul, Duluth and the Iron Range.

Frank Pond, a native of Two Harbors, who had captained the 1923-1924 team to a 13-1-0 record, was appointed Gopher coach in the fall of 1930. During his five-year tenure at Minnesota, he iced strong teams in 1931-1932, and 1932-1933, and 1933-1934. During the three-year period, the Gophers won 34, lost 8 and tied 1.

The 1932-1933 team, captained by a Marsh Ryman, who later became Athletic Director at Minnesota - was the first Minnesota team to meet a team from the east when they lost to formidable Harvard 7-6 in Boston. Ponds five-year stay resulted in a 46-21-4 record for a winning percentage of .676%.

Larry Armstrong, a well-known Canadian athlete and former St. Paul Saints mentor, took over the coaching duties at Minnesota for the 1935-1936 season. Armstrong held the Gopher coaching spot for 12 seasons.

Armstrong’s record was 125-55-11 for a winning percentage of .681%. He suffered only one losing campaign, that of 1937-1938. With Bud Wilkinson, later to become the famous Oklahoma football coach, was in the nets when the Gophers defeated the University of Manitoba in 1937 for the first time in 11 seasons.

In 1938 and 1939 the Gophers lost all four games played against the University of Southern California, probably the best college team in the country at that time. The previous three seasons prior to World War II (1938-1939, 1939-1940 and 1940-1941) the Gophers posted a 46-9-2 record. ‘National Championship’ honors were accorded the 1939-1940 team as they won 18 games and finished the season undefeated. Among their college victims were Michigan, Michigan Tech, Illinois and Yale. In the National AAU Championships they defeated with ease the New England All-Stars 9-4 and Connecticut’s Brock Hall 9-1. During the season the team scored 138 goals to their opponents, 25. Led by such performers John Mariucci, the 1939-1940 team was the strongest at Minnesota since the sport was inaugurated at the college in the early 1920s. Mariucci would figure as a dominant Gopher coach later in the 1950s.

During the WWII years the Gophers schedule was curtailed as many colleges did not ice teams as the Government discouraged travel. Minnesota scheduled a few college contests against Dartmouth, Michigan and Illinois, but the bulk of their schedule was against local amateur clubs such as Honeywell, Fort Snelling, Berman’s and Wold Chamberlain and Canadian junior teams from Winnipeg, Fort William and Port Arthur.

Elwyn “Doc” Romnes, a native of White Bear Lake and former Chicago Blackhawk star, followed Armstrong as Minnesota coach for the 1947-1948 season. His best season was that of 1950-1951 when the Gophers compiled a 14-12 record. The team lost several close early-season encounters, but managed to win their last nine games, barely missing a bid to the newly-inaugurated NCAA tournament.

During Romnes’ tenure the newly remodeled Williams Arena was opened for play February 17, 1950 when the Gophers swamped Michigan State 12-1 before a crowd of 3,437 fans. This was the first time that the Gophers had their own arena for practice and games. Known informally as the ‘barn’, Williams would serve as home of the Gophers until 1993. In 1985, Williams Arena was renamed Mariucci Arena in honor of the former Gopher player and coach, John Mariucci, and the Mariucci name would also become the name of the new UM arena constructed in 1993.

Athletic Director Ike Armstrong was not satisfied with Romnes’ five-year record of 53 wins and 59 losses and replaced him with former Gopher football and hockey star John Mariucci for the 1952-1953 season.

By the early 1950s hockey in the state was growing at a fast rate with large youth programs in St. Paul, Minneapolis and Duluth, and increased interest in the newly developing Twin City suburban communities and other are smaller cities in northern Minnesota. This growth, combined with winning Gopher teams during this era, resulted in record crowds at Williams Arena. For the season of 1953-1954 Minnesota led the nation in college attendance by attracting 103,000 fans for 18 home games. Season figures for other WIHL teams were as follows: Michigan State- 10,000, Michigan- 39,000, Michigan Tech-14,000 and North Dakota-54,000. Total league attendance for the following season of 1954-1955 climbed to 312,304.

Mariucci (left), a colorful individual who with his remarks and views was a newspaperman's dream, decided to recruit primarily Minnesota players for his Minnesota teams. With few exceptions the players on its teams during his 13 year stay were natives of Minnesota. In March of 1958 the WIHL dissolved over charges of recruitment of Canadian junior players, as Coach Mariucci did not like Denver and other teams’ practices of the recruiting older Canadian players. There was no league play in the 1958-1959 season, but after the bad feelings had subsided the seven teams regrouped to form the newly named WCHA for the 1959-1960 season.

Mariucci amassed a 215-148-18 record for a winning percentage of .587%. Under his guidance Minnesota was NCAA runner-up in 1953 and 1954, losing in the finals in 1953 to Michigan 7-3. In 1954 the Gophers dumped Boston College 14-1 in the opening game, and lost in the finals to RPI 5-4 in overtime. John Mayasich and Dick Dougherty each scored nine points in the two-game tourney. In 1961 the NCAA Championship was held at Denver, with Minnesota finishing in third place, and the Pioneers taking the NCAA Crown. Minnesota also captured league titles in 1953 and 1954 and placed second in 1961 and 1966, with third place finishes in 1955, 1964 and 1965.

The legendary John Mayasich led the Gophers in scoring for four consecutive seasons -- 1952, 1953, 1954 and 1955. Jim Mattson was the league's leading goaltender in 1953 and 1954. Mayasich and UM goalie Jack McCartan would later play important roles in the success of the 1960 Gold Medal winning U.S. Olympic team. Mayasich was honored by the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame as being an outstanding high/prep school hockey player in America during the first half of the present century.

During the 1955-1956 season, Marsh Ryman, captain of the 1932 Gophers, replaced Mariucci as the Minnesota mentor on an interim basis when Mariucci took over the coaching duties of the 1956 U.S. Olympic team and led the USA to a Silver Medal at the Winter Games in Cortina, Italy. Ryman, who later became Athletic Director at Minnesota, coached the Minnesota team to a fourth place finish in the WIHL.

After 13 seasons, Mariucci was fired from coaching duties and took a position with a newly formed Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. Known as the “Godfather of Hockey” in the state of Minnesota, he did more than any other individual to popularize the sport in the state. A much sought after speaker, he gave freely of his time to further advance the game in Minnesota and surrounding areas. He led the Gopher hockey team to national prominence. Attendance at home games increased greatly during his reign. The record crowd for a Minnesota game was set January 18, 1956 against North Dakota as 9,490 fans crowded into Williams Arena. Later the Minneapolis Fire Marshall reduced the allowable attendance in the rink to 7,600.

Glen Sonmor, a former professional hockey player and experienced coach, who at one time had been Mariucci’s freshman coach, became the Gophers seventh mentor. In five seasons plus part of another, Sonmor posted a 79-82-6 record. After he left early in the season of 1971-1972 to join the newly formed Minnesota Fighting Saints of the World Hockey Association (WHA), he was replaced by interim coach Ken Yackel, another former Gopher player.

With a season record 21-12, and a 18-8 finish in the WCHA, the Gophers captured the 1969-1970 season title edging out Denver and Michigan Tech. Goalie Murray McLachlan and the pint-sized Mike Antonovich led the Maroon and Gold to the league championship. In the finals of the WCHA playoffs, Michigan Tech edged the Gophers 6-5 to dash any hopes that they had of going to the NCAA tournament. In 1971 the upstart Gophers, saddled with a losing regular season of 11-16-2, advanced to the NCAA finals at Syracuse before losing to Boston University 4-2. In the semi-final game Minnesota edged Harvard, 6-5.

Former Gopher player Herb Brooks became the eight Minnesota coach when he replaced Glen Sonmor for the 1972-1973 season. Brooks, who grew up in St. Paul, came from a hockey conscious family. His father had been a well known amateur player in the 1920’s and his brother, David, had been a member of the Gophers in the early 1960’s and the 1964 U.S. Olympic team.

In addition to his playing for Minnesota in the late 1950s, he had been a member of five U.S. National teams and the 1964 and 1968 U.S. Olympic Teams, although he was famously the last player cut from the 1960 US Olympic Gold Medal team. Prior to his appointment as Gopher mentor, Brooks had coached Minnesota junior teams and had been an assistant to Glen Sonmor. Having extensive playing experience in European hockey it was only natural that he became interested in the game as played by the Russians and Czechs. He became an advocate of the Russian style of play and the coaching of Anatoly Tarasov. Brooks, who had a degree in psychology from the University of Minnesota, employed some of his learning in this field to motivate his players with the will to win and raised statewide expectations with his tremendous successes.

In his second season, that of 1973-1974, with a 22-12-6 overall record, the Gophers captured their first NCAA title at Boston by edging Boston University 5-4 in the first round and outlasting Michigan Tech 4-2 in the finals. Brad Shelstad was chosen as the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, while Les Auge and Mike Polich were placed on the All-Tournament squad. During the season Minnesota had finished second in the WCHA race to Michigan Tech.

In 1975, the Gophers won the WCHA with a 24-8-0 mark in the NCAA Tournament held in St. Louis as they defeated Harvard 6-4 behind Warren Miller’s first hat trick. In the finals, UM was flat in a 6-1 loss to Michigan Tech, which had finished second to the Gophers in the WCHA.

The following spring of 1976, the Maroon and Gold won the NCAA crown for a second time in three seasons. In the tournament held at the old DU Arena, Boston University was Minnesota’s first opponent, losing to the Gophers by a 4-2 score in a rough game that produced a serious brawl. In the NCAA final game, Minnesota edged Michigan Tech, 6-4. In the final game Gopher Tom Mohr, a seldom used goalie, replaced a sick Jeff Tscherne in the nets and proved to be the hero of the championship game. Minnesota’s Tom Vannelli, who had amassed two goals and four assists in the two games, was chosen as the tournament's Most Valuable Player.

At the NCAA finals in Detroit in 1979, Brooks led the team to their third NCAA crown in seven years of his coaching at Minnesota by edging New Hampshire and North Dakota by identical 4-3 scores. During the 1978-1979 season, the Gophers had finished second to North Dakota in the WCHA race.

After the Wisconsin Badgers joined the WCHA in the 1970s and their teams became a factor in the league races, a big rivalry built up between the two schools. When the teams met, feelings of the fans ran high and the language employed likewise. In the book “One Goal”, by John Powers and Art Kaminsky, they describe Badger coach Bob Johnson (a former Gopher player in the 1950s) and Herb Brooks as follows: “They'd both graduated from the ‘U’ and both were driven, compulsive people. But there were important differences, too. Brooks was tightlipped, a blunt, and often critical. Johnson was hyperactive, garrulous, and unabashedly boosterish. Brooks was mysterious and enigmatic, always keeping you off base. With Johnson, no guessing was necessary; if you didn't know what he was doing and why, he would tell you-a dozen times.”.

Nine players whom Brooks had coached at Minnesota were selected by Brooks as members of the 1980 Gold Medal US Olympic team. These players were Neal Broten (left), Bill Baker, Steve Janaszak, Eric Strobel, Phil Verchota, Mike Ramsey, Buzz Schneider, Rob McClanahan and Steve Christoff.

Brad Buetow, a Minnesota native who had played under Brooks and was his assistant coach at UM, took over head coaching duties at Minnesota on an interim basis for the 1979-1980 season as Brooks was at the helm of the U.S. Olympic team. Brooks never returned to the Gophers following the 1980 Olympic win, and went on to coach in Europe and the NHL.

With the losses all the Mike Ramsey, Neal Broten, Rob McClanahan, Eric Strobel and Steve Christoff to the Olympics, all of whom had eligibility remaining at Minnesota, Buetow faced a tough job of replacing them. However, the Gophers finished with an overall record of 26-15 with the help of Tim Harrer, who led the WCHA in scoring and set a new school record of 45 goals for the season. In the WCHA playoffs the Gophers defeated Michigan Tech and Colorado College, but lost to Northern Michigan 4-3 in a one-game playoff at Minneapolis, ending any chance of competing in the NCAA final four at Providence, R.I.

With an overall finish of 31-12, Buetow led the 1980-1981 team to the WCHA title. Minnesota then defeated Colgate University by 9-4 and 5-4 scores in the NCAA playoffs, thus allowing Minnesota to enter the NCAA Final Four in Duluth. The highly regarded Gophers outlasted Michigan Tech 7-2 in the opener, but were upset 6-3 in the finals by Wisconsin.

In 1982-1983, Minnesota won its second league crown in three years as they posted a 18-7-1 WCHA finish and a 33-12-1 overall season. A talented group of freshman joined the team including goalie Frank Pietrangelo, Corey Millen, Wally Chapman, Tony Kellin and Mike Anderson. In league playoffs the Maroon and Gold defeated UMD but lost to Wisconsin in the WCHA finals. However, both Minnesota and Wisconsin advanced to the NCAA first round where Minnesota outplayed New Hampshire 9-7 and 6-2. The NCAA Final Four at Grand Forks found the Gophers losing their opening game to Harvard 5-3 and to Providence 4-3 in the consolation contest.

Following the 1984-1985 season Buetow, who never experienced a losing season, and ended his six-year Minnesota coaching career with a 171-75-8 record (.689) - was released from his position by the University of Minnesota Athletic Director Paul Giel, who refused to give any official reason for Buetow's dismissal. Obviously, Minnesota’s failure to win any NCAA Championships since Herb Brooks left in 1979, was a factor in Buetow’s dismissal.

Doug Woog, another 1960s Gopher player took over the head coach position for the 1985-1986 season. Woog would be the Gophers’ coach for the next 14 seasons. Woog, a former junior coach in Minnesota, was also a big believer in Minnesota talent, and most of his teams were also culled from Minnesota’s high schools. Woog’s teams were mostly very successful in terms of wins (.664), WCHA regular season titles (four) and most importantly, he compiled 12 consecutive NCAA appearances from 1985 to 1997. But unfortunately for Gopher fans, none of Woog’s teams were able to win an NCAA title. During the Woog era, opposition fans always respected Minnesota’s success and talent levels, but jeered their seeming inability to win an NCAA title.

Woog’s closest chance for NCAA glory came in the 1989 season, when the Gophers played in the NCAA championship game at the St. Paul Civic Center against Harvard. With both teams full of returning 1988 US Olympic team members, it was one of the greatest NCAA title games in history. Tied 3-3 in overtime with 16,000 Minnesota fans screaming their hearts out, Minnesota’s Randy Skarda came within an inch of a Gopher title when his shot clanged off the goalpost. Moments later, Harvard’s Ed Krayer scored of a faceoff, ending Minnesota’s season and winning the NCAA title for Harvard. Woog also coach Hobey Baker winners such as Robb Stauber and Brian Bonin. Today, Woog is a popular color analyst on Gopher TV broadcasts, which had become a statewide media attraction under Woog’s run of successes. In 1993, Minnesota moved to a new arena (also named for John Mariucci) with 10,000 seats and modern amenities.

But by 1997, Woog’s popularity as a coach had run its course, in large part due to his failure to win a NCAA crown. In 1997, he gave way to current coach Don Lucia, a Minnesota native who had taken Colorado College to the NCAA finals in 1996. In Lucia’s third year (2001-2002), he, along with a superb team of players, did what no Gopher team had been able to do since Herb Brooks – they won an NCAA title. Minnesota won it all on a Matt Koalska overtime goal against Maine, 4-3 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, returning the Gophers to the pinnacle after a generation without an NCAA title. While the predominantly Minnesota-based crowd went delirious inside the arena, outside the arena near the UM campus, Minnesota students and fans were so excited that a riot broke out.

Lucia followed the NCAA title in 2002 with another NCAA Crown in 2003, this time an emphatic 5-1 victory over New Hampshire in Buffalo, NY, giving the Gophers their fifth NCAA title. Gopher Pride had turned to national dominance.

But since 2003, NCAA titles have remained elusive. Lucia has led the Gophers to a pair of WCHA titles in 2006 and 2007, and the Gophers have been in four straight NCAA tournaments, but have not been able to climb all the way back the top. The 2006 team won the WCHA title, but were stunned by Holy Cross in the first round of the NCAAs, and the 2007 squad also won the WCHA title, but lost to North Dakota in the NCAA quarterfinals. Last year’s squad stumbled to a seventh place WCHA finish, but still made the NCAAs.
Minnesota Traditions

Colors: Maroon & Gold
In 1880, the University of Minnesota was preparing for spring graduation. For the previous 29 years, different graduation colors were used every ceremony. In the spring of 1880, President Folwell began a tradition of common school colors at the University. He asked an English instructor, Mrs. Augusta Smith, to select proper colors to use for graduation ribbons and other occasions. She chose maroon and gold, which made a favorable impression on the students and faculty in 1880. As the years passed and without any kind of formal action, maroon and gold became the official school colors.

This famous Minnesota phrase, pronounced SKY-YOU-MAH, is more than 115 years old. In 1884, two Minnesota rugby players, John W. Adams and Win Sargent, tried to think of a fitting team yell. They used the word “Ski”, a Sioux battle cry meaning victory, and combined it with “U-Mah” (representing the University of Minnesota and rhyming with “rah-rah-rah”) to create a team cheer. The phrase stuck and was incorporated into both official school songs, “Hail Minnesota” and more commonly in the “Minnesota Rouser.”

Cheerleading at Minnesota
One of the most visible traditions in sports was born more than 100 years ago at the University of Minnesota. In the fall of 1898, student Johnny Campbell offered to lead organized cheers at football games. Today, the Gopher Cheerleaders are one of the few squads to include ice hockey cheerleaders on skates.

The Gopher Nickname
The Gopher mascot is a tradition as old as the state. Minnesota was tabbed the “Gopher State” in 1857 after a satirizing cartoon, depicting nine Gophers with the heads of local politicians pulling a locomotive, was published. The story was over legislative action for a $5 million railroad proposal in western Minnesota. Later, the University picked up the nickname. Today, the Mascot is known as Goldy Gopher.

The “Golden” Gophers
The “Golden” adjective has not always been a part of the Gopher nickname. During the 1930s, the Gophers wore gold jerseys and pants. Legendary KSTP-AM radio announcer Halsey Hall coined the term “Golden Gophers” in reference to the team’s all-gold attire on the field. From 1932-41, Minnesota compiled an impressive record, losing only 12 games in the 10-year span and winning seven Big Ten titles and five national championships — a true “golden” decade of Gopher football.

The Minnesota Rouser
The “Minnesota Rouser” is one of two official school songs at the University of Minnesota. It was written in 1909 by Floyd M. Hutsell in response to a contest sponsored by the Minneapolis Tribune. The contest was judged by University President Cyrus Northrop and Governor A.O. Eberhart, with the winner receiving $100. The rouser is sung at Gopher sporting events, and Gopher fans have added the spelling of the state name as a flourish at the end of the song.


Minnesota, hats off to thee!
To thy colors true we shall ever be.
Firm and strong, united are we. Rah! Rah! Rah! for Ski-U-Mah.
Rah! Rah! Rah! Rah!
Rah! for the U of M.

M-I-N-N-E-S-O-T-A! Minnesota! Minnesota! Yay, Gophers!
Famous Minnesota Alumni
Academics and Business

* Saul Bellow, Faculty, English, 1946 - 1976 Nobel Prize in Literature
* Milton Friedman, Faculty, Economics, 1945-1946 - 1976 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences
* Robert Penn Warren – 3 time Pulitzer Prize Winner
* Earl Bakken - invented the battery-powered cardiac pacemaker
* Christiaan Barnard - performed the world's first heart transplant
* Michele Brekke - NASA’s first female flight director
* Walter Brattain - Nobel Laureate physicist, co-inventor of the transistor
* Seymour Cray - supercomputer architect, founder of Cray Research
* Robert W. Gore - inventor of Gore-Tex
* Ancel Keys - nutritionist, inventor of K-rations
* Izaak Kolthoff - "Father of analytical chemistry"
* C. Walton Lillehei - pioneering heart surgeon, inventor of cardiac pacemaker, "Father of open-heart surgery"
* Deke Slayton - astronaut
* Harvey Mackay - businessman, Four time New York Times bestseller author
* Robert Ulrich - Chairman of Target

Arts and entertainment

* Eddie Albert - actor
* Loni Anderson - actress
* Dave Arneson - co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons, writer, educator
* Aaron Brown - TV journalist (dropped out)
* Lila Downs - Singer
* Bob Dylan - singer/songwriter (dropped out)
* Henry Fonda - actor (did not graduate)
* Peter Graves - actor
* Garrison Keillor - author
* Jessica Lange - actress
* Kate Mulgrew - actress
* Michele Norris - host of NPR's All Things Considered
* Ron Perlman - actor
* Harry Reasoner - ABC and CBS news anchor and correspondent
* Harrison Salisbury - journalist
* Eric Sevareid - journalist
* Yanni - Grammy-nominated pianist/composer
* David Zinman - conductor


* Marion Barber III - Running Back, Dallas Cowboys
* Bobby Bell - 1983 inductee to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
* Patty Berg - cofounder and first president of the LPGA; three-time Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year
* Randy Breuer- NBA Basketball Player 1983-1994
* Herb Brooks - Ice hockey coach, 1980 Olympic Ice Hockey Coach
* Tony Dungy - pro football player and coach
* Carl Eller - pro football player
* Greg Eslinger - All-American, Center, Denver Broncos
* Paul Giel - College Football Hall of Fame member

* Bud Grant - pro football coach
* Ben Hamilton, - Guard, Denver Broncos
* Kris Humphries - Forward, Toronto Raptors
* Bobby Jackson - Guard, New Orleans Hornets
* Mike Lehan - Cornerback, Miami Dolphins
* Tom Lehman - 1996 British Open golf champion; 1996 PGA Tour Player of the Year
* Laurence Maroney - football player (New England Patriots)
* John Mayasich - Olympic gold and silver medalist at hockey
* Kevin McHale - NBA basketball player
* Karl Mecklenburg - pro football player and Denver Bronco
* Paul Molitor - Baseball Hall of Famer
* Anthony Montgomery, Defensive Tackle, Washington Redskins
* Bronko Nagurski - 1963 inductee to Pro Football Hall of Fame; 1929 first-team all-American on offense and defense
* Leo Nomellini - 1969 inductee to Pro Football Hall of Fame
* John Roethlisberger - Three-time U.S. Olympic gymnast, five-time NCAA champion
* Flip Saunders - NBA head coach
* Bruce Smith - 1941 Heisman Trophy winner
* Matt Spaeth - Current football player
* Terry Steinbach - all-star pro baseball catcher
* Thomas Tapeh - NFL player
* Mychal Thompson - NBA basketball player
* Rick Upchurch - NFL player
* Ben Utecht, Tight end, Indianapolis Colts
* Charles "Bud" Wilkinson - pro football coach
* Dave Winfield - 2001 inductee to Baseball Hall of Fame
* Walt Jocketty - St. Louis Cardinals GM 1995-present
* Glen Perkins - Pitcher for MN TPolitics

* Wendell Anderson – Former Governor of Minnesota, U.S. Senator
* Robert Bergland - U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, U.S. Congressman
* James Blanchard – Former Governor of Michigan, U.S. Ambassador to Canada
* Warren Burger – former chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court
* Theodore Christianson – Former Governor of Minnesota, U.S. Congressman
* David Durenberger - U.S. Senator
* Donald M. Fraser - Mayor of Minneapolis, U.S. Congressman
* Orville Freeman - Governor of Minnesota, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture
* Geir Haarde - Prime minister of Iceland
* James D. Hodgson - U.S. Secretary of Labor, U.S. Ambassador to Japan
* Hubert H. Humphrey - U.S. Vice President and 1968 Democratic nominee for President
* Eugene McCarthy - U.S. Congressman, U.S. Senator, three-time presidential candidate
* Walter Mondale - U.S. Vice President and 1984 Democratic nominee for President
* Wayne Morse - U.S. Senator
* Tim Pawlenty – Current Governor of Minnesota
* Patricia Schroeder – Former U.S. Congresswoman (D-Colorado)
* Harold Stassen – Former Governor of Minnesota, presidential candidate
* Luther Youngdahl - United States District Judge and Governor of Minnesota

About Minneapolis/St. Paul
Minneapolis-Saint Paul is the most populous urban area in the state of Minnesota, United States, and is composed of 186 cities and townships. Built around the Mississippi, Minnesota and St. Croix rivers, the area is also nicknamed the Twin Cities for its two largest cities, Minneapolis and Saint Paul, the former the larger and the latter the state capital.

The area is part of a larger metro area with an estimated population of 3.5 million people in 2006, ranked the 13th most populous in the U.S.

To remind everyone there were actually two cities, people started using the phrase Dual Cities around 1872, which evolved into Twin Cities. Despite the "Twin" moniker, the two cities are independent municipalities with defined borders and are quite distinct from each other. Minneapolis, with its broad boulevards, easily navigable grid layout, and modern downtown architecture, has been referred to as the "first" (i.e. furthest east) city of the American West; Saint Paul, which sports narrower streets laid out much more irregularly, clannish neighborhoods, and a vast collection of well preserved late-Victorian architecture, is considered to be the "last" (i.e. farthest west) of the Eastern cities.[ Also of some note is the differing cultural backgrounds of the two cities: Minneapolis being affected by its early (and still influential) Scandinavian/Lutheran heritage, while St. Paul was touched by its early Irish and German Catholic roots.

Often, the area is referred to as simply "The Cities," both within Minnesota, but generally outside the metropolitan region, and even in the bordering states of Iowa, Wisconsin, and the Dakotas. Areas of Minnesota outside of the Twin Cities are collectively referred to as "outstate" by people from the Twin Cities metro area. Today, the two cities directly border each other and their downtown districts are about 9 miles (14 km) apart. The Twin Cities are generally said to be in "east central" Minnesota.

Minneapolis and Saint Paul have competed since they were founded, resulting in duplication of efforts such as building bigger or more extravagantly. Both cities have campuses of the University of Minnesota, and after Saint Paul completed its elaborate Cathedral in 1915, Minneapolis quickly followed up with the equally ornate Basilica of St. Mary in 1926. In the late 19th and early 20th-centuries the rivalries became so intense that an architect practicing in one city was often refused business in the other. The 1890 United States Census even led to the two cities arresting and/or kidnapping each other's census takers, in an attempt to keep either city from outgrowing the other.

The rivalry could occasionally erupt into inter-city violence, as happened at a 1923 game between the Minneapolis Millers and the St. Paul Saints, both baseball teams of the American Association. In the 1950s, both cities competed for a major league baseball franchise (which resulted in two rival stadiums being built), and there was a brief period in the mid-1960s where the two cities could not agree on a common calendar for daylight saving time, resulting in a period of a few weeks where people in Minneapolis were one hour "ahead" of anyone living or traveling in Saint Paul.

The cities' mutual antagonism was largely healed by the end of the 1960s, aided by the simultaneous arrival in 1961 of the Minnesota Twins of the American League and the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League, both of which identified themselves with the state as a whole (the former explicitly named for both Twin Cities) and not with either of the major cities (unlike the earlier Minneapolis Lakers). Since 1961, it has been common practice for any major sports team based in the Twin Cities to be named for Minnesota as a whole, with the Twins and Vikings followed by the Minnesota North Stars (1967–93), Minnesota Muskies (1967–68), Minnesota Moose (1994–1996), Minnesota Pipers (1968–69), Minnesota Fighting Saints (1972–77), Minnesota Kicks (1976–81), Minnesota Strikers (1984–88), Minnesota Timberwolves (1989–present), Minnesota Thunder (1990–present), Minnesota Lynx (1999–present), Minnesota Wild (2000–present) and Minnesota Swarm (2005–present). In terms of development, the two cities remain distinct in their progress, with Minneapolis absorbing new and avant-garde architecture while Saint Paul continues to carefully integrate new buildings into the context of classical and Victorian styles

About The Series
While Denver is not a primary rival for the Gophers, Denver is always excited to play Minnesota, as all WCHA teams always circle the Gopher game dates on the calendar as something special. With Minnesota undefeated in league play and sporting the top national ranking, the target is now clearly affixed the Gophers.

The good news for Denver is that the Pioneers are Pioneers are 5-1-1 against ranked opponents and 6-1-1 at Magness Arena this season. The bad news is the DU team lost two games to then unranked St. Cloud last weekend, and may be without the services of Patrick Wiercioch, who has emerged as the Pioneers’ best overall rookie and top defender, who got hurt last weekend.

The speedy Pioneers have averaged 4.7 goals per game in their six wins and 2.0 gpg in their four losses, which clearly shows that DU would love to play run and gun with Gophers. For Denver, the offensive key is Tyler Bozak, who is DU’s leading scorer against Minnesota with 7-3--10 in five career games, but who has been held pointless in his last three games. For Denver to have a chance at points, it’s fairly imperative that he play a key role this weekend.

The Pioneers come into the series with the nation’s seventh best offense (3.45 GPG), but the Gophers are better balanced with the nation’s 10th best offense (3.4 GPG) and ninth best defense (1.9 GPG), as well as much better special teams play – the Gophers are ranked sixth on the power play with 20.8% and the fourth best PK at 93.8%. The Pioneers are not in the top 20 in anything but offense, so DU will need to likely score to be successful. Minnesota’s defense is a good unit, and with the Gopher’s team speed likely equal to that of the Pioneers, goaltending will also be crucial.

On paper, the Gophers are just flat out better than DU is right now, but the WCHA games are played on the ice. I think the Gophers are likely due for at least one down performance this weekend and I think the Pioneers are probably due for a win at home. However, without the DU students (who are on Winter break – DU is on the quarter system) and if Weircioch does not play, DU will have a hard time winning a game this weekend.

Prediction: Split series. Denver wins 3-2 on Friday; Minnesota wins 5-1 on Saturday.