The second half of the season was a saving grace for the Pioneers in 1998-99. After a 7-7-0 start, Denver went on a 19-6-2 tear, and clinched the WCHA Final Five Championship along the way.
Gwozdecky expects his team to continue its run when Denver’s regular season gets underway at the Icebreaker Invitational today. In his sixth season with the Pioneers, however, Gwozdecky knows his team will feel the impact of the departure of four regulars. The loss of All-American Paul Comrie is especially hard hitting.
“We had a guy like Paul Comrie on our team last year who had the attitude that when the chips are on the line (you) make the play to get the team back in the game or make the play to win the game,” Gwozdecky said. “And that’s something you just don’t replace.”
Denver does return two of its top five scorers, including junior forwards Mark Rycroft (19 goals) and Bjorn Engstrom (16 goals), and three veteran defenders in junior Judd Stauss, sophomore Erik Adams and sophomore Jesse Cook. Gwozdecky said their experience with winning should make for a smoother transition.
“I think buoyed by the confidence from our stretch run last year, I think there’s a lot of excitement and a lot of enthusiasm for our team going into the season,” Gwozdecky said.