New Denver head coach David Carle already faced an uphill challenge in his first season as head man for the Pioneers. Not only is he following in the footsteps of two incredible head coaches in George Gwozdecky and Jim Montgomery, but he’ll have to do so with a roster decimated by the NHL departures of Henrik Borgstrom, Troy Terry, Dylan Gambrell, and Logan O’Connor. Those four accounted for 42% of Denver’s goals, and 45% of their total points.
As if that wasn’t difficult enough, Carle’s path to continuing Denver’s current 17-year streak of 20+ win seasons—a streak that began when Carle was 12 years old—got a little bit tougher on Monday when it was announced that prized freshman goalie recruit Filip Larsson would be out indefinitely with a lower body injury.
Larsson was a 6th round draft choice of the Detroit Red Wings in the 2016 NHL Draft. After a strong post-draft year in the Swedish SuperElit league, Larsson moved over to North America, where he had an incredible season with Tri-City in the USHL, posting a 1.65 GAA and .941 save percentage. Expectations were understandably high for Larsson to come in as Denver’s #1 goalie and possibly anchor the team as they worked to replace all the goal-scoring they lost from last year.
In the interim, the Pioneers will likely turn to sophomore back-up goalie Devin Cooley to get first shot as starter. Cooley appeared in three games for the Pioneers last season, totaling 20 minutes of game time and stopping 13 of 14 shots.