Friday, June 28, 2013

DU Sends Out Mascot Survey To DU Community

Dear Fellow Pioneers,                 

This spring, a Denver Pioneer Mascot Steering Committee was originally formed by students at the University, and was soon expanded to include Alumni, Faculty and Staff.  Our mission is to create a Denver Pioneer mascot character that enables and celebrates school spirit, is representative of our Pioneer community and consistent with our values.
Several things to keep in mind about this project
  1. DU will continue to be the Denver Pioneers.
  2. The crimson and gold colors will not change
  3. The use of the Arch Denver and Interlocking DU logos will remain as you know them today. 

Over the past several months, we conducted over 45 focus groups, 15 open forums and just as many one on one interviews with alumni, undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, staff and other key stake holders.    We compiled many great ideas, including the 20 key attributes for a great Denver Pioneer mascot character.

From the findings of this extensive research, we have worked with professional concept developers and designers to develop mascot concepts. 

Today you will be asked to provide your evaluation of three Denver Pioneer mascot character concepts against the 20 attributes created by the community.  We are asking you to participate in this very important survey among our entire community of students, alumni, faculty, staff and friends to help create a new Denver Pioneer mascot character.

Your opinions will play a critical role in this process, and will help determine if any of the three concepts move forward.

So please take the survey now.  The questionnaire should take about 12-15 minutes of your time, and your answers will remain confidential.   To participate, click on or copy and paste the following website in its entirety,

Please note that the survey will let you pause, but you can only take it once.  Please complete the survey by Wednesday, July 17.

Thank you in advance for your time.  Go Pios!

In Pioneer Spirit,
Sam Estenson
Will Guy
Co-Chairs, University of Denver Mascot Steering Committee

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Boone Photo in Joe Scott's Office

(above) Notice Boone photo upper left

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

DU Sends Out Mascot Email to Alumni

Dear University of Denver Alumni:

You are a vital part of our DU family, and as part of our efforts to keep you informed we want to let you know of upcoming plans at the University to conduct a study that will result in the adoption of a new mascot. The study, initiated by the Undergraduate Student Government (USG), will seek to include the input of all segments of our campus community. As an alumnus, your feedback and involvement will be a critical part of the process.

To help you understand more about this study, it’s important to provide you with some background on mascots at the University of Denver. We currently do not have an official mascot and have not had one since 2008.

Over the last few weeks, there has been considerable controversy surrounding the "Denver Boone" figure that was our mascot some years ago. As you may know, "Boone" has not been the mascot of the University since 1998. An effort to resurrect Boone was mounted by student and alumni groups in 2008, and this led to the assembly of a University committee to gather opinions from different sectors and consider the matter at length. It quickly became clear that Boone was a polarizing figure that did not reflect the growing diversity of the DU community, but rather was an image that many women, persons of color, international students, staff and faculty members found difficult to relate to as defining the pioneering spirit. Consequently, it was decided that Boone would not be our official mascot.

The current Boone figure that is seen at athletic events is in keeping with what was outlined in a letter sent to the community in 2008, allowing students and alumni groups to use the image as a celebration of the past, to the extent they may choose. The figure is not used in any official manner by the University, nor is any financial support provided by DU for its use by others.

The study will not be evaluating support for Boone; rather, it will be looking toward a new mascot that the entire DU community can get behind and embrace. The University has offered its support to the student government task force through its office of Marketing and Communications.  During the next couple of months, a professional research study will gather input from students, alumni, staff, faculty and other members of the community about how we can express ourselves as Pioneers in a new mascot.  This is a similar process that led to the new University logo that was successfully launched last year.  The USG plans to engage in this effort through spring quarter, with a recommendation to be forwarded to the Chancellor’s office and the Board of Trustees.

Over the years, the University of Denver has evolved to become a diverse community that strives to be welcoming and inclusive for everyone. It is our intention to continue to involve all of the University’s many constituencies in this process and work collaboratively to find a celebration of school spirit that reflects our identity as the Pioneers, embraces our growing diversity and represents the exciting future of our institution.

We appreciate your continued support of the University of Denver.  Please send your comments to and include your name, class year and contact information. 


Kristine Cecil
Associate Vice Chancellor for University Advancement &
Executive Director of Alumni Relations

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Boone Is Not A Viable Option Bill Passed By USG

(above) The Student Senate's Dirty Deed Done Dirt Cheap

Resolution No: 4 

Authors: Craig Hirokawa (SOCS Senator), Alisa Brown (Sophomore Senator), Zach Gonzales (AHUM Senator)

Co-Sponsors: Harper Hill (Chair of Campus Climate), Jackie Faust (Senior Senator), Katherine Snow (Off Campus Senator), Emily Wetmore (SECS Senator), Vanessa Teck (Senior Senator) 

Whereas; Boone is not the official school mascot of the University of Denver, nor is he supported by the administration of the university; and, 

Whereas; the Undergraduate Student Government acknowledges alumni support of Boone as a part of their history with the University of Denver, but recognizes that the campus climate has shifted, 

Whereas; Boone continues to be a point of contention for undergraduate students, especially surrounding matters of school spirit and who is participating in school spirit activities; and, 

Whereas; the Undergraduate Student Government allocates the Student Activity fee, with student organizations being the dominant recipient of this allocation; and, 

Whereas; the Undergraduate Student Government has attempted to establish an element of consistency among the student organizations, namely through OrgSync., Finance Committee visits, and standardized finance guidelines; and, 

Whereas; the Undergraduate Student Government has strongly advocated for and participated in the School Mascot Task Force because the administration has made it clear that which has made it clear that Boone is not a viable option for a school mascot; therefore, 

Be it Resolved; that the Undergraduate Student Government re-affirms that the governing body does not support Boone; and, 

Be it further resolved; that the Spirit Committee will help reinforce this Resolution by taking a proactive approach when approving or sponsoring any Spirit Committee events; and, 

Be it further resolved; The following committees, operating as direct subsidiaries of the Undergraduate Student Government, including the Academic Affairs Committee, Diversity Committee, International Student Committee, Senate Affairs Committee, Spirit Committee, Student Organizations Committee, and Sustainability Committee,
will not use their funds to purchase any merchandise with the image of Boone on it, effective immediately; and,

Be it further resolved; that the Constitution and Bylaws will reflect the spirit of the resolution; and, 

Be it further resolved; when the School Mascot Task Force has finalized, produced and approved, with administrative support, a new school mascot, there will be a 30 day transition period; at the conclusion of this period, any funds provided by the Undergraduate Student Government cannot go towards the purchase of any merchandise with the image of Boone on it; and, 

Be it further resolved; during this 30 day transition period, the Undergraduate Student Government and the School Mascot Task Force will notify the student body of all policy changes, hold forums for students and student organizations to ask questions, purchase a new mascot costume, and any other necessary steps to ensure a smooth transition; and, 

Be it further resolved; after the 30 day transition period, any entity funded by the Undergraduate Student Government that is found to be using funds to purchase merchandise with the image of Boone may have their funds frozen, at the discretion of the Finance Committee and their perception of prior understanding of the rules and the severity of the situation; and, 

Be it further resolved; that if an organization is found to have used USG funding for Boone merchandise after the 30 day transition period, the SOC will review the licensing status of the organization, and will convene to discuss the funding decision of the organization. Depending on the severity of the offense, licensing status may be revoked by the sole discretion of the SOC. After a second offense, licensing status will be revoked without exception. 

Passed the 26th day of February 2013. 

I, the undersigned, hereby certify that the foregoing Resolution Number 4 was duly adopted by the USG Senate.
Senate Action:
USG Vice President USG President

Thursday, September 27, 2012

2012-13 Preseason LetsGoDU SuperPoll™

LetsGoDU Super Poll
1). Denver - Undefeated
2). Boston College - Has one game losing streak vs. DU
3). Minnesota - Gangnam Style Dance Party injury to Freshman recruit
4). UND - No players arrested & cited by police last weekend
5). Ferris State - Invited to join NCHC "Waiting List"
6). Michigan - Has losing all-time record against DU
7). Miami - Recruiting Pipeline to major juniors wide open
8). Notre Dame - NCHC traitors
9). Cornell - Has never defeated DU in Frozen Four

Last). Colorado College - Last National Championship was during Eisenhower administration

* The LetsGoDU Super Poll is a scientific analysis factoring strength of schedule, player statistics and coaching tendencies. Then Denver is placed in the one hole, CC is placed last and the rest of the teams more or less settle where they might likely finish.

Friday, August 14, 2009

DU Legend & Campus Lounge Owner Jim Wiste

(above) DU Alum Jim Wiste pictured with Joanie at the Snoopy Senior Hockey Tournament this summer is Santa Rosa, California

Editor's Note: As a lead-in to the upcoming 60th anniversary celebration of Denver Pioneers hockey, LetsGoDU begins four-part series comprised of stories coming out of last month’s Snoopy Tournament in Santa Rosa, CA in which the DU alumni team successfully defended their Marcie (60A) Division championship.

In this first installment, Jim Wiste (DU '69) shares his insights with Hockeys Future writer D.J. Powers on a variety of topics including playing for the legendary Murray Armstrong, current head coach George Gwozdecky, and how he came to own one of the DU hockey community’s favorite gathering spots, the Campus Lounge. The "Campus" located near DU, is annually ranked as one of the best Neighborhood Bars in Denver by Westword.

Exclusive to LetsGoDU
By DJ Powers

Q: Let’s start off with DU Hockey's upcoming 60th Reunion Celebration. Are you planning to be there and what are some of your thoughts about it?

JW: Oh yes! I think it’s going to be fantastic. It’s 60 years when hockey started in Denver. A guy by the name of Doug McKinnon is going to drop the first puck. He was DU’s first captain. I think there are two players from the original team that I think was in ’49. There were seven coaches and I think there are seven NCAAs (championships). I think it’s going to be great for the university and great for the players to come back. We had a 50-year reunion obviously ten years ago and now this is our 60th year. I don’t know if there’ll ever be another one just because all of the coaches may not be alive much longer that have coached (over the years).

Q: How did you come to play for the University of Denver?

JW: Well, in those days it was really surprising because Murray was the only person that recruited that also coached. He would look in the papers to see who was doing well and then he would maybe make an appointment to see your parents. He made one trip up to Saskatchewan and would come into my living room and sit down. Then he would say to my father “you know, if he were my son this is what I would suggest that he should do.” (Laughs) You know, he kind of hurt the university because his recruiting budget was probably only about 3,4, or 500 dollars and he drove everywhere. Back then it was a handshake. You didn’t sign a Letter of Intent. I didn’t know if I had scholarship until I came down and found out that I was in the dorms and that my books were free. So I thought ‘oh, maybe I have a scholarship.’ But now, it’s like everything else. Now, they make big thing out of a (player) signing with all of the legality of it and other teams trying to get somebody. But back then it wasn’t anything complicated. So it was just Murray saying that he wants a player on his team and he tells him. Other than that, it wasn’t anything fancy.

Q: What was it like playing for Murray?

JW: Well, Murray was kind of a legend in his own time because he had good teams and was the best motivator that I’ve ever seen. I played pro for ten years and I’d never seen a better motivator. Murray could motivate you. He was a salesman in his younger days and he could sell you. He would grab you by the hand as you walked out of the dressing room before a really important game and he would look into your eyes, be spitting into your face and say “good luck to you, son.” Then you would go out there and as we (players) used to say the piss is running down your leg during the national anthem, so you’d better be ready for the game. When Murray motivated you, he was good at motivating you. They only had one coach, so it was hard to teach a lot of players. We worked on fundamentals and did skating drills and different other things, which were really important, but not like it is now. They have film that they can break down everything and they can tell you if your little pinky is out of joint. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but you can back it up.

Murray was also respected. Out of respecting him, you worked hard for him. He was a man’s man. I think he was honest with his players and he worked you hard. Now I think the players have got it so soft. But I think the players today will tell you that they have a broader variety of things to do. They’ll do weight programs and running and so forth, whereas we were just mainly on the ice.

Q: What were some of the best things that Murray had taught you that you were able to take with you and apply to yourself as both a hockey player and as an individual?

JW: I think the integrity for being an honest person. He always used to have this saying that you could look yourself in the mirror in the morning when you’re shaving and you’ve given your best. That’s kind of one of the sayings that he had. There’s a book out that somebody wrote on Murray’s sayings because he always had these sayings. Like if you got hurt, he would always say ‘tape an aspirin to it. It’s a long way from your heart. You’re ok.’ And these were things that we all put into our repertoire and still say to each other. If you had a question, Murray would say ‘honest to God, Jim?’ George (Gwozdecky) has done a great job with the players too, but they’re two different eras. And people try to compare the two and you can’t. George has got to have guys out there looking for new players. He has to have help. Murray couldn’t have done this.

Q: What are some of the similarities do you personally see between Murray and George?

JW: I think George has great respect by his players. He has great character and doesn’t put up with anything if there’s a problem. The team comes first to him, and Murray was like that too. Actually they’re both kind of a lot alike in a way. George has made a name for himself, won some NCAAs (championships), and has been one of the top five coaches (in the NCAA) for about the last four or five years. It’s hard to come into the situation that he did after Murray Armstrong, who was here for 25 years. But George has made his own niche and I think winning those championships were important. So I think George and Murray are lot alike in their characters.

Q: Obviously not any player can play at DU. It takes a special type of player that could not only play at DU but also succeed there. Players who’ve come here such as Rhett Rakhshani and Tyler Ruegsegger, and even recent former players like Gabe Gauthier and Adam Berkhoel had not only the talent, but have (or had) the character that made them fit so well into the DU system. In terms of character, how are these players similar to those that played at DU when you were there?

JW: I’m fortunate to be able to skate with them. I met Rhett Rakshani and can see why he’s the captain. Mark Rycroft when he was here at DU was like him (Rakhshani) too. So they’re no different from the players that played for Murray. The same kind of guys that play for George played for Murray. Both are character people, as well as other guys like J.P. Testwuide. It’s a fraternity and in those guys, you can see that they pick it up. Just looking at their skills on the ice, you can tell that they’re way better than we were. But we never got a chance to meet them through the old-timers hockey. When you look at a player on the ice, they’ve got a helmet on and a mask. And you hardly recognize them until their senior year. And now we get to see them in the dressing room. George has a deal where he’d have alumni come in and talk to the team. You ask him what he wants you to talk and he would say whatever you want. And he’d even open the door up. And we’ve all done that. Alot of the players (that are alumni) have. So I think that’s pretty good on George’s part that he would take the chance on allowing us to talk about anything to the team that we wanted, whether it be what it’s like to be a freshman or anything about hockey or about life. I think the players always enjoyed it because a lot of the older guys would have things to say. And I give George credit because that’s like saying ‘come into my bedroom and you can say what you want.’ He wasn’t afraid to open the door. That shows me that he is self-sufficient with his own operation. When you can say that, you’re not hiding anything because I can walk into the dressing room and say I think this or that. Now George would say ‘say what you want to say. I don’t care what you talk about, just talk about something.’ I’ve had a lot of my other (Snoopy) teammates do it and we’ve all approached it from different angles. Some have approached it on a humorous angle and some have approached it on a serious angle. Well, I think that brings character into it. So I give George credit for that. He’d just look at you and say ‘do what you want to do.’ I’ve talked to them (the team) a couple of times and depending on how well the team is doing or what’s happening, it’s hard to tell them when they’re in first place what they’re doing wrong. Yet when they’re struggling, it’s not my job to tell them what to do right because I’m not their coach, but George has opened up those doors and just told me to say what I want to say.

Q: Let’s shift gears here for a bit and talk about the Campus Lounge. How did that all come about?

JW: Well, when I finished hockey, I had played about ten years, I wanted to do well in something and had no idea. I really hadn’t done anything in ten years, so with my degree I thought it was tough, but I wanted to be my own boss. I’ve always loved the food business, and actually the Whites owned it. John White played for DU and I knew his dad pretty well. One day he skated with us and asked if he ever wanted to sell his business. Each time we skated, I’d talked about it a little more. And the funny thing about it was that I didn’t know a thing about the restaurant business. Maybe it was a good thing because otherwise I probably wouldn’t have bought it. (Laughs) So that’s how I bought it and it’s been 33 years. It’s kind of nice because when I go and watch sports and talk sports, I’m fortunate to do something that I enjoy doing. Sure, there are a lot of tough things, but it’s been good to me. The DU people have been good to me. They’ve frequented my place. The faculty and other sports teams like the Boston Bruins or the Chicago Blackhawks would come in too. So that’s how I got into the business.

Q: I know that you had played professionally for a number of years. So what was it like making that huge jump from college to the pros?

JW: We were probably, and really and truly, the first college players to come out. There were players such as Keith Magnuson, Cliff Koroll, and myself, along with Tony Esposito with Chicago. College players never played in the NHL back then. Now it’s unbelievable. It was good and bad because players would take an extra run at you because you were a “college player” and maybe felt that you weren’t tough enough. They were jealous of you because you had a college education. So we were kind of the pioneers of that. I’m proud of that. Now you look down the roster and there’s I don’t know how many college kids that are in the NHL. It’s unbelievable. But we were really the first to come out. I think college players are more dedicated and I think they have a vision of what they want to do. I’m not downgrading the other guys, but that’s how much college hockey has come along too. Like when DU starts each year, they may have eight freshmen coming in and by the senior year they may have two or three because the rest have all turned pro already. So that shows the quality that they have and things like that. So we were kind of the pioneers on that end. I remember going to Chicago’s camp. We trained before we even went to camp and the other pros didn’t. We were in better shape and focused on what we were doing a little more. Now all of the pros do that. Maybe we helped them in a way that they didn’t know about because it’s an all-year job now. In the old days, you went to camp thinking that you could get into shape in about two or three weeks. Now these guys are practicing all the time.

Q: As an outsider, I have the opportunity to look at how you guys interact with one another both at the rink and away from it. And while all of you are friends and come from different mothers, you’re all brothers too.

JW: Well there’s an old saying that if you can’t be yourself around your friends, then they’re not your friends. If I can’t say what I want to say around my friends, then they’re not my friends. I might say the wrong things, but I can do it. Who else can I do it around? Who will forgive me or who will help me? So a lot of people look at us and say ‘you guys are kind of honest with each other.’ We’ll look at each other and say you’ve got this wrong in a joking way or you might say ‘you’re being an ass.’ (Laughs) So that’s the biggest compliment that you can pay your friends is to be yourself among them. And you know, it doesn’t come overnight. You have to gain that respect or have that respect to give. So I think we’ve done that and it’s carried on. At least I hope it has carried on. There have been a couple of hiccups along the way, but how can you have a program that doesn’t? When you’re on top, there’s nowhere to go but down a little bit. DU has been picked first this year and that’s the kiss of death in a way, but you know what? I’d rather be picked first than last. I think that shows the strength of our program too. We all go to the games and we all support them. The reunion is going to be great. I think it’s always tough too because we’re all at that part in our lives where we’re going to lose a few each year. So that’s tough.

Q: Would you say that “family” is a more generally accurate description of the team, especially in the way you guys support one another?

JW: Oh yeah, and we all are. We’re sitting there tonight, playing in the over-60 group, we all know that we can’t do the things that we used to do, but we’re just sitting there cheering each other on. If a guy gets hurt, we’re all concerned. We’re friends and we’re here because of that. There’s still that competitiveness. You can’t lose that because let’s face it you still want to win. If you can look into mirror and say that I gave it my best, then that’s all that matters. Even when I played pro, I remember one of the older pros that was our goalie say to me after we had been beaten 7-2, “I played the best that I could.” And I thought, he was right. He tried his best and did his best. If don’t play your best, then you’ve got a problem. Maybe you could say that I could’ve been in better shape or more prepared. But those go on in life and in business. So be prepared and be there. Hockey is no different than running a business. You’ve got to be organized and have leadership and do a lot of things, so those things carry on. I think they’re important. I’m fortunate enough to be here talking to you and say that I’m a Pioneer and I’m proud of it.

Q: In your personal opinion, how would define a Denver Pioneers hockey player?

JW: I would like to define him as dedicated, sincere, honest, hard working, and compatible with other people. Maybe we would like to have everything but we can’t. But I think a lot of those qualities are maybe 80 percent of what they are because if he isn’t then all the other guys would give him a hard time. Like maybe we would have a guy that’s a little bit of problem and we would all say ‘c’mon, you have to lighten up.’ (Laughs) We would govern ourselves. We’ve always done that. I think they still do that. So when you bump into a guy and if he’s a Pioneer, then he’s your friend. And if he needs help, you help him. If he needs some advice, then you give him some advice. And I think it’s sincere. So those are the things that you look upon as a Pioneer.

Q: What was the greatest memory that you took from your time at DU?

JW: I think winning an NCAA championship was a great memory. But I don’t like to say that everything is about winning because I know some guys that didn’t win. They always say that you’ve won an NCAA championship. That’s not really it. I think the friendships with guys like Cliff Koroll, Keith Magnuson and the guys that I met that I went to school with is a great memory. And it’s not just in hockey either. The people that I’ve met when my life changed and I couldn’t mention them all was the best thing that I’ve gotten out of it. So if you asked what the biggest thrill from hockey, I’d say winning the NCAA championship. They always say that what you can go back to is priceless, which are the friendships that we formed. And we’re all still good friends.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

DU Women's Golf Wins NCAA East Regional

(above) DU won the NCAA East Regional Championship on Saturday

From: Golfweek

When Denver got word they were being shipped across the country to the NCAA East Regional, the players didn’t pout or worry that they weren’t getting any respect.

Instead, they held an Ultimate Frisbee draft.

“We’re a little unique,” coach Sammie Chergo said, smiling.

With a healthy mix of fun and focus, Denver won the program’s first NCAA regional title Saturday at the University of Florida’s Mark Bostick Golf Course. The sixth-seeded Pioneers posted a 1-under 279 – the only sub-par round of the tournament – to erase an eight-shot deficit and top Alabama, the second seed, by four shots.

Senior Dawn Shockley notched the round of the tournament – a 4-under 66 that included five birdies. Senior Katie Kempter shot 68, and sophomores Sarah Faller and Stephanie Sherlock chipped in with a 72 and 73, respectively.

Any thoughts that the Pioneers couldn’t hang with SEC and ACC powerhouses were squashed. After all, why stress about golf when the day is still young?

“No one on our team ever gets too jacked up about golf,” said Shockley, who was the Colorado high school basketball player of the year as a senior at Estes Park High. “You’ve got to have a balance because golf can be a lot.”

That’s why, instead of pounding range balls after their rounds, the Pioneers drove a half-mile down 2nd Ave. from the Mark Bostick Golf Course to UF’s football facility. There, they put on custom-made T-shirts, marked off the field and played Ultimate Frisbee. Even coach Sammie Chergo suited up.

“It’s very easy for us to leave our games at the course,” said senior Katie Kempter. “That’s a huge part of our team.”

When Chergo started the program from scratch in 1997, she recruited players who were well-rounded in a number of sports. If golf wasn’t pursuit No. 1, that was OK. Her current squad features former softball, soccer, basketball and hockey players. Kempter even admitted to being a “marching band geek” in high school.

It’s a no-nonsense formula that has clicked, especially in the last few years. Denver won five events in the 2006-07 season and received its first regional bid, then followed that season with five team titles and a sixth-place showing at the NCAA Championship last season.

This year, Denver won three times, including its sixth consecutive Sun Belt Conference title.

Now, they’re heading back to the Big Dance knowing they belong.

“To see what’s been building, it’s so rewarding for me,” Chergo said. “But for them, too, for how they’ve grown with this program.”

DU will play in the NCAA Championships held May 19-22 at the Caves Valley Golf Club hosted by Georgetown University.

Friday, April 17, 2009

DU Alum Butler Playing Like NHL Veteran

(above) DU Alum Chris Butler was the biggest surprise for the Buffalo Sabres this season

From: Buffalo News
John Vogl

It was clear to anyone watching that Chris Butler was staying in Buffalo. Andrew Peters saw it. So in a gesture of kindness and teammate kinship, Peters plucked the Sabres rookie from his lonely days in a hotel and invited Butler to live with him and his wife.

It didn't take long for Butler to go from house guest to family member. Butler is a smart, thoughtful guy whose etiquette floored his hosts. Whenever Erin Peters would get up from the kitchen table or prepare to leave a room, Butler would rise from his seat in a show of chivalry and respect.

The respect immediately flowed both ways.

"He's as mature as they get for a 22-year-old," Andrew Peters said. "He's a professional in every sense of the word. He treated my wife with the most respect, and that went a long way. That's what I mean by gentleman. He's a really, really good kid. He's like a young brother."

The housing arrangement worked, but it's unlikely to continue next season. Butler may as well start shopping for his own place because he's not going anywhere. The defenseman figures to be a Sabres regular for years.

In a season littered with disappointments, Butler was the Sabres' biggest success story. He was called up in December when injuries thinned the blue line. He played too well to go back to Portland. He finished with 47 games and was second on the Sabres with a plus-11 rating.

"Chris Butler probably surprised all of us with his play," coach Lindy Ruff said. "He put together basically a solid half-season for us. That is a bright spot."

The Sabres sent Butler to Portland this week so he can take part in the American Hockey League playoffs. It's a chance to get a feel for postseason intensity since he is a first-year pro.

But he certainly doesn't play or act like a first-year guy. Peters mentioned Butler's maturity, and it is evident on the ice and in the dressing room. His chats are full of insight, whether he's talking about the overall negativity of mainstream media or what it's like to be on the ice with Teppo Numminen and Craig Rivet.

"If you look at my defense partners from this year, Craig Rivet just played his 800th game, Teppo has played over 1,000 games and is a potential Hall of Famer," Butler said. "The amount of things that I learned from them, the little things from just being around them, made me that much of a better player."

The even better news for Sabres fans is Butler feels he's nowhere close to his potential. He had two goals and four assists, numbers he's planning to boost.

"As you adjust and as you grow more and more confident and comfortable at this level, I think I can start to evolve into the kind of player that I want to be," Butler said. "I'm not even close to where I think I can be at this level. I think I can be more of a two-way defenseman. I think I can do a better job of picking spots and getting up in the rush, do a better job of blocking shots. The goal this summer is to get a lot stronger so I can handle guys down low a lot better.

"I don't know if it's my mind-set that has to change, but I think some games I kept things too simple. I would kind of make a pass and let other guys do the work, whereas I feel I can get up in the rush, I can make plays."

The Sabres are eager to see it. Ruff was impressed by Butler's ability to shake off bad games — he had back-to-back minus showings just once — and sees the University of Denver product growing into a top-pair defenseman.

"His mental makeup is very good for the game, so that overall was a good year for him," Ruff said. "He had a game here or there that he didn't like, but he was able to bounce back and put some games together that were very good for us, too. He's got the mobility for it. He's got the head for it, and he's got good work ethic."

He's also got the drive. He wants to ingrain himself with the Blue and Gold, not just be a guest in someone's home.

"I want to be here for all 82 games next year and make more of a difference instead of just kind of being a role player per se," Butler said. "I kind of look at it as what can I do better and how can I make us a more successful team next year?"

Sunday, March 15, 2009

DU Ski Team Wins 20th National Championship

(above) DU Sophomore Antje Maempel overtook CU's Alexa Turzian in the final 50 meters to win the 15K classical race on Saturday

(above) Denver's ski team celebrates DU's 20th NCAA National Championship in Maine on Saturday

From: Denver Post

RUMFORD, Maine — Antje Maempel won her second individual NCAA nordic skiing title in three days Saturday, propelling the University of Denver to its second straight NCAA skiing championship and 20th overall.

The Pioneers, who trailed Vermont by two points going into Saturday, got 74 points from its three men and 103 points from its three women to win the team title with 659 points.

It was the second straight year Denver has claimed the team title after not leading going into the final day, a feat that hadn't been accomplished in the 11 years prior to 2008.

Colorado sophomore Vegard Kjoelhamar won the men's 20-kilometer freestyle race to lift the Buffs from fifth place to second with 602.5 points. They finished half a point ahead of third-place New Mexico.

This was the 13th time in the 56-year history of the skiing championships that DU and CU have claimed the top two places.

The University of Alaska-Anchorage took second and third place in the men's 20K, moving from sixth place to fourth with 584 points, and Vermont finished fifth with 573.

"It was an improbable and unlikely win for the team this year," DU coach David Stewart said. "We had a solid team, but I don't think anybody looked at us in the beginning of the year and said, 'They're the team to beat.' A couple other teams are really strong. But the team came here and just performed extremely well, to be honest."

Maempel, a sophomore from Stuelzerbach, Germany, overtook CU's Alexa Turzian in the final 50 meters to win the 15K classical race, two days after claiming first in the 5K freestyle race. Maempel finished in 38:35.0, just half a second ahead of Turzian.

"I was lucky because I wasn't sick or anything all season, so I could continue to practice and race all year, and it kind of worked out for a great season," Maempel said. "We were motivated to win the team title."

Maempel is the first athlete to win both women's nordic races at the championships since CU's Jana Rehemaa in 2006. Rehemaa also pulled off the feat in the same format: a 5K classical race and a 15K freestyle race.

"She's obviously an outstanding skier, and she just peaked at the right time," Stewart said.
NCAA Team Championships (all sports)

1. USC 73
2. UCLA 71
3. Stanford 58
4. Oklahoma State 48
5. Arkansas 43
6. Michigan 30
7. Penn State 29
8. Denver 27
9. Yale 25
10. Cal 24

Monday, March 9, 2009

Post's Mark Kiszla Says DU-CC Defines Colorado

(above) It was bedlam in the DU Student Section on Saturday night
photo credit: Lauryn Sprung

LetsGoDU Intro: This may be one of the best articles ever written about the DU-CC Series.

From: Denver Post
by Mark Kiszla

At a time when we all seem to be counting every penny, the best bang for the buck in Colorado sports is the sound of a DU hockey player crunching a CC Tiger against the boards.

It hurts so good. The agony of overtime is delicious. The hitting is relentless.

And, in the end, with voices in the stands screamed hoarse and college athletes with barely enough energy remaining to shake hands at center ice, Denver had tied Colorado College 1-1 on Saturday night.

"I wouldn't expect anything less," Pioneers senior J.P. Testwuide said. "The way this rivalry is, it seems to come down to the last minute, I think, every game we play them."

DU-CC hockey is why we live here.

No matter how long you have called this state home, you have not truly lived in Colorado until you have savored the sweetness of a fresh peach from the Western Slope, gazed at Parry Peak awash in alpenglow or felt bones rattle when the Pioneers collide with the Tigers in hockey.

It could be the middle of July, Pioneers coach George Gwozdecky said, and his blood would still run hot about beating Colorado College.

Broncomaniacs hate Duh Raiders. Buffs talk trash with Rams. But what's the richest, proudest, loudest sports rivalry in Colorado?

Without a doubt, it has to be Tigers-Pioneers hockey.

Magness Arena is where a thousand college students wearing white T-shirts with "Denver" written across the heart will peer over the shoulder of Colorado College goalie Richard Bachman and playfully chant: "DU reject!"

This is the series where brothers Mike and J.P. Testwuide of Vail take the ice and represent by wearing the clashing colors of DU and CC on their sweaters in a game where passion runs deeper than family ties.

If you watched closely enough, you could spy the brothers exchanging winks as they skated past each other on the ice.

"I don't think I'll forget a minute of playing against those guys for as long as I live," said J.P. Testwuide, who promises to still be arguing about every glorious detail at the Thanksgiving table when he's 78 years old. "It's a story I'll carry with me forever. My brother and I talk about it all the time. We know how special it is."

When DU plays CC in hockey, a tie is like kissing your brother.

While the stumbling, bumbling Avalanche cannot give away overpriced NHL tickets to home games, there were 6,128 spectators on the nervous edge of seats when a goal by Colorado College center Chad Rau with 97 seconds remaining in the third period forced the game into overtime.

In a part of the country where college basketball doesn't matter, DU has Tyler Ruegsegger from Lakewood, Luke Salazar from Thornton and John Ryder from Colorado Springs to make the Pioneers our true winter sports heroes from next door.

As we all cover ears to let Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler mope about how new Denver coach Josh McDaniels doesn't like him, there is no whining in college hockey, where egos are small and hearts are huge.

And just when you think it's impossible for anything new in a series with 271 games of history, Colorado College coach Scott Owens pulled his goalie with the score tied.

"It's not the way the game is supposed to be played," Owens graciously admitted. But this was truly desperate hockey, because unlike fifth-ranked Denver, the Tigers must scratch and claw for every point if they are to land a berth in the NCAA Tournament.

Never seen a DU-CC hockey game?

Heck, then maybe you also have not yet enjoyed the simple pleasure of washing down a cheeseburger with a blueberry milkshake at the Dairy King in Empire, or experienced the adrenaline rush of standing atop your skis while staring into that gaping canyon of moguls of the Palli run at A-Basin.

Better start a bucket list, Bubba.

In a city where our neighbors all seem to have been born someplace else, nothing in local sports shouts Colorado like the beautiful groan of the crowd when a shot clangs off the post during the heat of a CC-DU game. It is why we live here.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Shagman: The Mind, Body & Soul Of DU Hockey

(left) The self-described "best looking play-by-play voice in the WCHA," Jay Stickney

Sources: The Clarion, Westword, Denver Post

DU hockey players and coaches know him as "The Voice of University of Denver Hockey." But Jay Stickney was once the "Shagman" of the cheesy Denver commercials for Rocky's Autos near Mile High Stadium.

What's a "shagman?" David Rothrock - who founded Rocky's at a corner gas station in 1982 and has built it into one of the region's largest used-car dealerships, including a $100,000 budget for TV and radio spots - has the answer. "It's a name used for people who drive cars back and forth, from coast to coast or locally."

"I guess as strange as the commercials were, it was still fun doing them, being with the crew," Stickney remembers. "The weirdest part was really just meeting the general public. When you're out at the Adam's County Fair -- we went wherever there was dirt -- there'd be people waiting an hour and half to get a hat signed. It was like being a really bad rock star."

These days you can catch him live twice a week at the Ritchie Center as the voice of the University of Denver's Pioneer hockey team on KLZ 560 AM. "It's great being part of a team that's so successful for the past nine years. I get to travel with the team, hanging out with 20 & 21 year-old guys," says the 38-year-old. "I'm more like a coach. I drink a lot of coffee and just follow the puck."

"When I am on the air, I just pretend that I know what I am talking about," said Stickney.

Ask any coach or player to comment on his experiences with Stickney and the response will start with a laugh, smile or shake of the head, every time.

He is referred to by everyone who knows him as the team comic.

"Sometimes my humor will get me in trouble with fans though," said Stickney.

"One time, four or five DU players were called for penalties at the end of a game and a couple guys had to sit on laps in the penalty box because the box only holds about three players at a time. So I made a joke about there being a lap dance going on in the penalty box," said Stickney.

He added, "I got a call from an unhappy listener the next day. That was several years ago and I have not had any upset calls since. Maybe no one is listening to me anymore."

"I was the ninth pick for the job as DU announcer. They said it was because I was just too good looking for radio. I was just excited to be picked," Stickney joked.

Stickney said, "I have worked in many places, but I love working for the DU hockey program."

"Being able to call the games at the Frozen Four in Boston in 2004 was one of the most phenomenal experiences of my life, even if I did lose my voice by the end of the championship game," he said.

Stickney graduated with a degree in journalism and mass communications from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1990.

He currently resides in Littleton with his wife and two kids.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Born a Bearded DU Fanatic in 1969, He's Finally Old Enough to Join the Freshman Class

(above) All the photos in this posting appeared in the original 1986 Clarion article

LetsGoDU: In March of 1986 the DU hockey team advanced to the NCAA Frozen Four for the first time since 1973. Needless to say euphoria swept over DU, and the main beneficiary was Denver Boone.

From: Denver Clarion

October 2, 1986

He stands about five inches tall in his natural state - not very impressive for a legend.

He'll turn 18 years old in April, but he's lived through enough trials and tribulations for two lifetimes.

He was an orphan child, all but forgotten during his infancy in the early 1970's. He made a brief comeback as he entered his teens, but found himself on the verge of extinction in 1984.

He's been walked on, spit at, put aside, shunned and criticized as a wimp by his most loyal friends.

But through it all, Denver Boone endures - with a perpetual smile as wide as the DU Arena and an undying enthusiasm for his university.

There is little question that Boone, the Walt Disney-created successor to Pioneer Pete, has survived some turbulent times at DU.

He has often taken the unnecessary brunt of a university just now recovering from a deeply-rooted image problem. However, Boone has been able to put behind him any controversy to become the symbol of a revived University of Denver.


Way back in 1910, DU's sports teams came to be known as the "Pioneers," and with the new nickname came the school's first mascot - Pioneer Pete.

Pete was little more than a cheerleader with a beard and a coonskin cap. His character portrayed a trapper, revived from Colorado's early pioneer days.

DU was trying to get into "big-time" football and Pioneer Pete was one of several additions to the sport's image. The same year the size of the marching band band was increased from 40 to 120.

Pete flourished with the success of the school and although every effort was made to let him work with all varsity sports, he became the symbol of the football program.

At the outset of the 1960's, DU's football program fizzled, and with it went the Pioneer Pete mascot.


Hockey interest built at a break-neck speed at DU during the 1960's, and the school began its search for a mascot for the hockey program. Surprisingly, DU's new mascot was the brainchild of a basketball coach.

The coach was Stan Albeck, who coached DU during the late '60's and went on to become the head coach of the ABA Denver Rockets, and NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers, San Antonio Spurs, New Jersey Nets and Chicago Bulls.

Albeck was inspired by Walt Disney characters and got in touch with a Disney artist through a DU contact.

Disney Studios drew up the designs for DU (the only group licensed to use the Boone character) and give it to the Theatre Department, which developed the first costume.

The next task was naming the new mascot.

The Special Events Committee held a contest in the fall of 1968 to find a nickname for the new Pioneer Pete.

Steve Kiley, then a junior mass communications major, won the contest with the "Denver Boone" title. According to a Clarion account of the story, Kiley thought of the name "while exercising his elbow and looking at the bottom end of a glass."

Doug Hirsh volunteered to help out the effort and soon became the first in a long line of Denver Boones.


Since 1969, Boone has been the official mascot of the sports program and, specifically, the hockey team. Many of DU's sports uniforms during the 1970's and very early '80's depicted the Boone on the front.

However, Boone's very existence nearly came to a tragic end in during the 1983-84 school year as a somewhat insecure student body rejected the "wimpy" Boone and strove for a more masculine prototype.

Efforts to replace Boone, which included a contest sponsored by the Clarion, proved unsuccessful as very few alternative mascots were developed.

Then in 1985 and '86 as the hockey team rose back to power, insecurities turned back into pride. A poll among students showed that a vast majority were not ready to get rid of their lovable mascot after all. Boone has weathered the storm, once again.

It was now officially time to reintroduce Boone to the DU public and Lamda Chi president Pete Castro came to the forefront to become DU's latest skating mascot.

Castro had little skating experience but made up for it with an intense drive to see Boone survive and flourish.

After passing out flyers at hockey games explaining why DU should save Boone, Castro took it upon himself to haul the decrepit Boone head out of storage, give it a fresh paint job and continue a long standing Pioneer mascot tradition.

Castro is gone, having graduated with the class of 1986, but DU students will have a chance to take his place when Boone tryouts are held Monday, Oct. 6 and Tuesday, Oct. 7.

For one lucky student, it will be the chance of a lifetime - to be an identity for the university, a source of enthusiasm for the student body and a hero to hundreds of wide-eyed children.

For Denver Boone, it will be an opportunity to once again return to where he belongs - at center ice of the DU Arena, sharing a smile with 5,000 of his closest friends.

(Above) The Clarion two-page spread included a "Boone Tryout Application"

Peter Mannino Writes Letter Supporting Boone

(above) Peter Mannino sent LetsGoDU a letter supporting the Boone mascot and what it means to him to be a DU Pioneer

To all Pioneers,

Throughout my career as a student-athlete at the University of Denver, I had the opportunity to meet a lot of students, alumni and DU fans. I met people from a lot of backgrounds and almost everyone was a big DU sports fan.

After my freshman year and all of the national championship ceremonies with alumni and fans, I also learned how passionate that people are about our proud school history and the mascot Boone. In arenas around the country, you’d see or meet people wearing Boone stuff or holding signs cheering us on. Including many people that I hadn’t met before.

It inspired me to research the history of the University and learn more about Boone, Pioneer Pete and the history of DU mascots. I learned a great deal from the University and alumni.

I learned that the original art came from Walt Disney studios.

I learned that the image doesn’t represent Daniel Boone or, for that matter, have any connection to Daniel Boone. It was a cartoon figure Disney Studios created in 1968 and called “Pioneer” since that was the name of DU’s sports teams.

I saw how it brought so many generations of Pioneers together. Once I learned the great tradition, I proudly wore the cartoon on my game equipment and still wear it today in professional hockey. It’s a character that connects a lot of people together- including me and all of those same people who I had the chance to see cheer on DU around the country.

During my senior season, more and more students began connecting with our history and the story of Boone’s Disney past. I joined with other student-athletes and student leaders to work on a committee that surveyed students and explored bringing Boone back as our official mascot.

We worked hard to be fair, survey everyone and share the data. Our results were overwhelmingly supportive and my fellow seniors were excited for all of the returning student-athletes since it sounded pretty positive that we were going to be able to bring our proud mascot back.

Things have changed and I just heard that the university has said no to the students’ request to bring back Boone as a formal mascot. I also know that so many students and alumni identify with the cartoon the same way Duke fans identify with the Blue Devil or the Oregon fans identify with the Duck.

We’re Pioneers and Boone’s our guy.

It’d be too bad if this impacts our school spirit and student or alumni support. I hope the students can rally together to be heard. It would be great if my teammates could experience the same student passion that I did during my four years at DU. The electricity of the student section at hockey games was always one of my favorite things about game days.

I’m proud to have been a Pioneer and Boone will always remind me of a place and time in my life when I went on my own new journey and learned what it meant to be a true DU Pioneer.

Go Boone!

PM, Class of 2008

Peter Mannino

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Puck Swami Describes Halloween In Boonetown

(above) Boonetown proved to be a dangerous place for Tigers on Halloween Night

LetsGoDU: Longtime Denver hockey fan Puck Swami wrote this essay for LetsGoDU on the festivities and atmosphere in the DU student section Friday night. He also writes a blog entitled Puck Swami's Know Your Foe which is updated every Thursday.

It's building.

It started with the smell of grilled bratwurst, and the sound of hockey sticks battering Tiger piƱatas just outside Magness Arena at the DU Grilling Society Pregame Party.

And inside, 30 minutes before Friday's game. there were 300 DU students standing in the south end. Usually there are 10 or 12 until almost the faceoff.

By game time, there were 500. And by the second period, there were 800 of them filling out the south end.

This was big.

The usual cell phones, Abercrombie shirts and nonchalance were nowhere to be seen. They had been replaced by Halloween Costumes. Posters. Full Body paint. Stuffed tigers hanging from nooses. Cleavage. Boone on Togas. You couldn't take your eyes off them.

Cowbells. Drums. Chants. Sweet Caroline. 1957. CC sucks. Cheering Chevy. Jeering Bachman. You couldn't hear yourself talk to your neighbor.

But more than anything, you could feel it. Something else was going on. This was more than just a rivalry game. This was different.

A crowd known for only cheering shots, goals and saves was now outright roaring on good shifts, forechecks and penalty kills.

The DU pep band was right in the center of it, students and alumni playing the DU fight song together at double speed, while students shouted the words and pumped their fist at every "Rah".

They were were together as one student body in a way I haven't seen DU students in 20 years.

And all across Magness Arena, the rest of the fans were grinning, cheering, and enjoying the collegiate spirit.

A night where they didn't just sit around and socialize, but a night where they shouted, sang and embraced the true college experience.

Most importantly, the team noticed. They hit harder. They worked harder. They outplayed the #1 team in the country and outshot them by 17.

Even coach Gwozdecky, who is usually wound as tight as the gears of a Swiss watch on gameday, commented that the student section and the pep band made a difference.

Because they did.

They cared.

They brought it.

And it mattered.

Magness is becoming a home ice advantage.

People are engaged.

Pumped up. Into it.

Let's keep it going. Looks At DU Alum Traded For A Bus

(above) DU Alum Tom Martin played in 92 games in the NHL in the '80s

Tom "Bussey" Martin recalls strange trade

By Evan Weiner - Correspondent

DU Alum Tom Martin was one of those players who seemed to bounce between the National Hockey League and the American Hockey League on an annual basis throughout the 1980s. He was good enough to be in the NHL but his career stats were pretty much non-descript. He played in 92 games for Winnipeg, Minnesota and Hartford between 1984 and 1990, scored 12 goals and assisted on 11 others. Martin was also a tough guy who rang up 249 penalty minutes in his NHL days, but many others could make that claim as well. But Martin holds one distinction that no one in the NHL, and maybe the entire sports world, could claim about his playing days.

Martin, who was a fourth-round draft pick by the Winnipeg Jets in 1982, was traded for a bus -- a used bus. That puts Martin in the same category as one-time major-league pitcher Keith Comstock, who was traded for a box of used baseballs as a minor-leaguer, independent league baseball player John Odom, who in May 2008 was traded by the Calgary Vipers of the Golden Baseball League to the Laredo Broncos of the United League for 10 bats, and Fred Roberts, who was traded by the NBA's Utah Jazz to Boston in 1986 in exchange for two preseason games in which Boston would play Utah.

On January 19, 1983, the Western Hockey League's Seattle Breakers dealt Martin to Victoria for a used bus and future considerations. Martin never played for the Breakers and decided to give the University of Denver a try instead. The left wing had played for the Kelowna Buckaroos of the British Columbia Junior Hockey League in 1980-81 and 1981-82 and ended up on the Breakers' reserve list. Martin decided he wanted to play hockey and get a college education at the same time so it was unlikely he would ever perform for Seattle. Breakers management was looking for a deal to get something of value for an asset it would never use.

Seattle was also looking for a team bus, and Victoria had an extra one. The Cougars management bought the vehicle after the WHL's Spokane Flyers suspended operations after 26 games in the 1981-82 season, but the Cougars could not use the bus that was sitting in Spokane because team management did not want to pay the taxes and duties to register the vehicle in Canada.

Each side got something they needed for unusable parts. Martin, a Victoria native, would play in Victoria in 1983-84, and Seattle got new wheels. Seattle needed the bus after its bus blew its engine on a trip to Kelowna.

"I was at the library that night, it was in the middle of the week and the season was going pretty good there in Denver," Martin said. "But I wanted to go back and play junior the next year. The team that had my rights, Seattle, they could not offer me any education. So I asked to be traded.

"You know Kevin (Dineen) was there, he was with me, we didn't think that much of it at first," Martin said. "You know, I went to bed that night but the next morning, the phone started going crazy and it ended up being a bigger thing than I thought and I got a lot of media at the time, phone calls from all the papers around the county and a few TV things. It was a pretty funny thing, I guess."

Martin, with his tongue firmly implanted in his cheek, took some exception to the characterization that he was traded for a "used" bus. But the bus did have some mileage on it.

"Well, it was used, but it was a fairly recently used. It was a fairly new bus," said Martin.

"I know it had bunks on it and it was definitely a team oriented bus. In the Western Hockey League they travel a lot and they need a good bus. Maybe it had better wheels than I did."

Martin left the University of Denver and played for the Victoria Cougars in 1983-84, but never laid eyes on the bus even though Victoria did play Seattle that season. Martin really wanted to eyeball the vehicle, but there was a problem. Seattle didn't have the bus when the Breakers played the Cougars in Victoria.

"I know it had bunks on it and it was definitely a team oriented bus. In the Western Hockey League they travel a lot and they need a good bus. Maybe it had better wheels than I did." -- Tom Martin

"I never saw the bus," said Martin. "I saw a picture of it. I got a picture sent to me once, they painted it all up and put Seattle Breakers on the side. Hopefully, it was a real nice bus. I didn't even see the bus that year because they (the Breakers) lost it. They had a kid from Europe on their team and he didn't have a visa and they tried to cross the border and they ended up confiscating the bus for six months that season."

Martin turned pro with the American Hockey League's Sherbrooke Jets at the end of the 1983-84 season and started his pro career thinking he left his tale of being traded for a bus behind. But he found out, quickly, that everyone knew the story. Martin picked up a nickname that stayed with him throughout his professional hockey career.


"I guess that's my handle," Martin said with a laugh. "That sticks with me with every team I go to and I everywhere I've been, I have been Bussey."

Martin ended his career with the AHL's New Haven Nighthawks in 1991. Martin is the only player in Western Hockey League history ever to be traded for a bus and that overshadows his accomplishments as a player, which included being named a first team AHL All-Star in 1988.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Chancellor Coombe's Email To Students Regarding Denver Boone Mascot

The Chancellor told Universty of Denver students in an email today that, "The Denver Boone figure (above) is one that does not reflect the broad diversity of the DU community and is not an image that many of today's women, persons of color, international students and faculty, and others can easily relate to as defining the pioneering spirit"

Sent Monday, October 20, 2008 9:10 am

Dear Students,

Last year a number of students and alumni began to advocate for bringing back Boone as the University's mascot. The Boone image was created for DU in 1968 in response to a perceived need to update the closely related Pioneer Pete figure used in the preceding decades. For similar reasons, Boone was replaced in 1998 by our current mascot Ruckus, the red-tailed hawk figure we adopted when we built the Ritchie Center and moved back to Division I athletics. The response to Ruckus among the University Community has been generally ambivalent, and in recent years there has been considerable underground activity in Boone images and memorabilia. This ultimately led to the students' efforts last year to resurrect Boone as our official mascot. I subsequently asked Vice Chancellor Peg Bradley Doppes to chair a committee that would consider this matter in a more direct manner and move it toward a resolution based on broad discussion. As the committee was formed, its charge was expanded to cover more generally the history and traditions of the University with the objective of developing greater awareness and pride among the University community.

The committee's initial efforts indicated a groundswell of support for Boone. Over time, though, the responses became more polarized, a growing number suggesting that the Boone image of the 1970s was simply not reflective of either the DU or America of today, still less of the future. From this perspective, the old Boone figure is one that does not reflect the broad diversity of the DU community and is not an image that many of today's women, persons of color, international students and faculty, and others can easily relate to as defining the pioneering spirit. Certainly, this runs counter to our commitment to build a diverse and inclusive campus community as a fundamental element of excellence. While there was some discussion among the committee members of the possibility of modernizing the Boone image, this generated little enthusiasm.

Opinion on campus concerning this matter is now quite polarized, and a resolution is needed. We need to move on. Consequently, I have decided that Boone will not become the official mascot of the University. While I certainly appreciate the genuine enthusiasm behind the "bring back Boone" movement, the University simply cannot adopt an official mascot that has a divisive rather than unifying influence on our community. The image will not be used in any official manner by the University, nor will we provide financial support for its use by others. That being said, Boone is a part of our history, one that is treasured by many alumni and friends as a symbol of the University they knew three and four decades ago, and we are certainly an institution that honors its past. Hence it seems reasonable that students and alumni be allowed to use the image as a celebration of that past, to the extent that they may choose.

This entire matter begs the question of what sort of image or figure should be the official "mascot" of the University, or indeed whether we need one at all. Our major symbol is the "arched Denver" logo that is now ubiquitous across the campus and in the media. One thing is certain--we will always be the Pioneers. I'd suggest that what we do need is a community-wide discussion of what it means to be a Pioneer, for today and the future, and I ask that the history and traditions committee and our student and alumni organizations take up this question with a view to building community and clarifying our identity.

Robert Coombe, Chancellor

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Writer Recalls DU's First National Championship

(above) Jim Brown & Murray Massier were two of the best players on DU's first National Championship team in 1958

Exclusive To LetsGoDU
by Dick Hilker (Denver Post Hockey Writer 1956-60)

A half-century after the 1957-58 team captured the University of Denver’s first NCAA hockey championship, those warriors of old are to be exalted once more.

Deservedly, the entire squad will be inducted into the School’s Athletics Hall of Fame on Oct. 23 at a banquet in downtown Denver.

To this one-time sports writer who chronicled that club’s unlikely climb to the apex of college hockey, the most single memorable game, of course, came on a frigid Saturday night in Minneapolis when those determined lands in crimson sweaters stunned the Sioux of North Dakota 6-2 in the title game.

But a two-game NCAA tournament did not make a season. Several important things about that team and that season still remain in my mind.

One was the fact that no one—not even Coach Murray Armstrong (left)—had expected that band of Pioneers to achieve what it did. Certainly, everyone correctly figured that “The Chief” eventually would turn Denver into a national power. But, after all, 1957-58 was only the second season of what was considered to be a formidable building project.

One-third of the player roster in Year Two was still comprised of pre-Armstrong recruits. Freshmen were not eligible for varsity play in those days and a half-dozen future Pioneer stars—including four all-Americas-to-be, Bill Masterton, George Konik, Grant Munro and Marty Howe—were enrolled in school but skating only during practice.

Yet, amazingly, the men who achieved The Fabulous First somehow turned the “future” into “now.”

(left) Bruce Walker, Murray Massier and Walt Dingwall were just three of Armstrong's elite forwards

Second, as impossible as it seems today, those Pioneers accomplished their feat with only 17 players on the varsity roster—including a back-up goalie who never saw a second of playing time and a versatile “utility” player who didn’t get ice time in 13 of DU’s 46 games.

College rosters generally were smaller then than they are today. But Denver had so few able bodies that stamina was a key ingredient in the season.

Remarkably, DU played the entire season with a rotation of only three defensemen—all- America senior Ed Zemrau, senior Blair Livingstone and Wayne Klinck, who had played for Armstrong’s successful Junior club in Regina, Saskatchewan. When Zemrau had to sit out five games with an injury, Al Barnhill came off the bench to fill in.

It should also be noted that a shortage of manpower wasn’t limited to playing personnel. The coach had no backup either. Armstrong had no assistant coaches or support staff except for a student manager. In fact, he didn’t hire as assistant coach until his 11th season at DU. But, given his ability to coach and recruit talent, why enlarge the payroll?

(left) DU's first line in the 1957-58 season comprised of Con Collie, Barry Sharp & Jim Brown

The third significant thing about that magical season was a six-game stretch between Dec. 17 and 31, 1957. After splitting the first two league games with Colorado College, the Pioneers were faced with four tough contests on the road against powerhouse Michigan and Michigan State, followed by two home games against Michigan Tech.

Those were the only games against those three teams that year and under the rules of the seven-team Western Intercollegiate Hockey League, they would count double in the point standings—two points for the winner instead of one.

In six previous games at Michigan, the Pioneers had only managed one victory and a tie and were solid underdogs going into Ann Arbor in 1957. Yet they pulled out two dramatic one-goal victories that were an omen of things to come.

Before moving on to East Lansing to face the Spartans, the traveling party spent Sunday night in Detroit. And since Armstrong had once skated for the Red Wings, he prevailed upon his old coach, the legendary Jack Adams, for tickets to watch the Wings and Gordie Howe play Toronto. It was a nice bonus.

Against Michigan State, the Pioneers had it a bit easier, winning 5-1 and 4-2, but given the hostile environment, the visitors had to work for both victories.

When the team’s plane arrived at Stapleton Airport, the triumphant icers were greeted by a couple of dozen fans and school officials, including Don Smith, DU’s sports information director who had not made the trip. Smith told me he considered the four-game sweep the most important event in the school’s hockey history—then in its ninth season.

I would have ranked the wise hiring of Armstrong as numero uno, but certainly that march through Michigan was a close second. The wins energized fan interest in the program and pumped up the crowds at the old DU Arena the rest of the season.

Hockey on the Hilltop was hardly a financial success in those days.

Attendance averaged only 2,756 (half of the arena capacity) in 1955-56 and was only slightly higher in Armstrong’s first season. But when all the ticket stubs were counted in 1957-58, the average crowd was just shy of 4,000. The significance of that was not lost on those of us who were hoping college hockey could be a profitable venture in Denver.

That road sweep was a turning point.

A week later, after the Pioneers swept Tech, 3-0 and 6-2, they were assured of a winning league record based on points in the standings. The 12-point sweep gave them 13 points, and although they won once four more games in league play, it was good enough for a second-place finish and a berth in the four-team NCAA field.

Still, few figured they would capture the grand prize. After all, the league champion Sioux had won three of the four games with the Pioneers, including a 9-0 pasting in Grand Forks in February.

Little wonder that a large contingent of Nodak fans was traumatized in Williams Arena in Minneapolis as the Pioneers skated into history—and the University of Denver Sports Hall of Fame.

An upset? Not really. As one of the DU players explained to me afterward, “Never count out Murray Armstrong in a big game.”

How true.

The members of the “Seventeen Blocks of Granite" (a nickname coined 50 years later)

(left) Dennis Slinn and Al Barnhill

Al Barnhill (So) - Defense and forward. “Barney” filled in well when called upon. Had played only juvenile-level hockey in Alberta, a couple of steps below Junior A brand played by most of his teammates.

Jim Brown (Jr) wing - Could really put the biscuit in the basket. Calgary native scored 53 goals in two seasons. Made all-tournament team.

Alan Cook (G) - If memory serves, he was also the team’s manager, but would have gone into goal in an emergency.

Con Collie (So) wing - Nicknamed “Dogger.” Played for Armstrong with the Regina Pats. If he went into the corner to get a puck, he usually came out with it, although he didn’t weigh more than 150.

Gordon Cresswell (Jr) wing - Toronto native played in 24 games. Wasn’t flashy, but dependable.

Walt Dingwall (Jr) wing - Scored only 12 goals for title team, but one of them—plus an assist—came in championship game. A valuable fore-checker and back-checker.

John Godfrey (Jr) wing - Played in every game and the Vancouver native was another of the good-checking forwards.

Wayne Klinck (Jr) defense - Teammates called him “Klincker.” He personified what this team was all about: guts. Playing with only three defensemen, this team gave up only 3.1 goals per game.

Blair Livingstone (Sr) defense - Blair was a defenseman in a wingman’s body, but he missed only one game. Solid and dependable. His most notable statistic of the season: Only seven penalties for 14 minutes. That was big considering his two defensive mates combined for 130 minutes in the sin bin.

Murray MacDonald (So) wing - Another ex-Regina Pat, who toiled on the third line. His forte was his checking ability. Wound up lettering for three seasons.

John MacMillan (So) wing - Not sure if DU has ever had a faster skater than Johnny Mac. Scored 19 goals and was named to al-tourney second team. Played a half-dozen years in the pros after graduating.

Murray Massier (Jr) center - “Muzz” was another of Armstrong’s Regina Pat imports. A wonderful stick-handler and playmaker. Was named the MVP of the NCAA tourney.

Rodney Schneck (Jr) goalie - He wasn’t highly touted when he came to DU from Wetaskwin, Alberta. But he turned out to be a stalwart in the nets, playing in every game for three seasons. Played in 94 games and the Pioneers won 58 of them. Usually came up big in the big games.

Barry Sharp (Sr) center - Big and strong, Barry provided the muscle up front. Tied for third in scoring on the team with 43 points in 37 games. In November of 1959 Barry was tragically killed during a pick-up hockey game at DU Arena when struck in the head by an errant puck.

Dennis Slinn (So) wing - Played with the Regina Pats juvenile level team and improved greatly as the season wore on, earning a regular turn on the third line. Scored a goal in tourney finals.

Bruce Walker (S0) wing - “Rooster” scored 18 goals and worked well with Massier. Recruited by Armstrong from the Prince Albert Mintos, a junior club in Saskatchewan. Solid player for three seasons.

Ed Zemrau (Sr) defense - Had a legitimate all-America year during championship season. A tough, hard-hitting two-way player who dealt out a lot of punishment.