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2019 NCAA Tournament West Regional Preview: Denver

Regular season: 22-11-5, 11-10-3 NCHC. Finished fourth in conference standings, lost in conference tournament semifinals to Minnesota Duluth 3-0, defeated Colorado College 6-1 in the third-place game.

How they got here: At-large bid. #2 seed in the West Regional and #8 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Impact players:

Junior forward Liam Finlay, 35 points (15 goals).

Freshman forward Emilio Pettersen, 29 points (6 goals).

Senior forward Jarid Lukosevicius, 28 points (18 goals).

Sophomore defenseman Ian Mitchell, 27 points (6 goals).

Sophomore goaltender Devin Cooley, 11-6-2 record, 1.85 GAA, .934 save percentage.

Freshman goaltender Filip Larsson, 11-5-3 record, 2.08 GAA, .929 save percentage.

The rundown: A new coach at the helm and one of the youngest teams in the country didn’t stop the Denver Pioneers from returning to the NCAA Tournament. First-year coach David Carle has two outstanding goaltenders to pick from every time the Pioneers take the ice, and they’ve relied on their usual formula of goaltending and strong defense to get this point. However, the offense has struggled somewhat this season. Denver ranks 29th out of 60 teams in goals per game (2.82) and one number that stands out is the power play (24/154, 15.6%). To beat Ohio State and avenge last year’s Midwest final loss, Carle says his team just needs to do what they do best.

“Like any game, it’s us playing to our identity and what we are; if we’re playing fast, if we assert ourselves with and without the puck,” Carle said. “It’s all about us and our preparation and how we go out and execute.”