DU Alumni

Alumni around the country gathered to watch hockey team’s Final Four game

While the University of Denver men’s hockey team celebrated its victory against Ferris State to qualify for the NCAA Frozen Four for the first time since 2005, it was all hands on deck for DU’s regional chapters and the Advancement team to organize semifinals watch parties across the country. On April 7, hundreds of alums gathered in 12 cities to cheer on the Pioneers as they took on the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks at the Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla.

In Chicago, DU chapter leader Alex Cooper (BSBA ’08) expected just a small group of local hockey fans to show up for the watch party. Instead, a group of more than 75 fans flooded Lincoln Park’s Ranalli’s Tavern.

“We had everyone from recent graduates to parents participate in the event,” Cooper says. “Many were huge hockey fans, but others were just DU fans in general looking to support the Pioneers.”

The New York City watch party attracted a similarly diverse group, and at the San Diego event, a former DU hockey player shared his inside perspective of what was happening on the ice.

Together, they witnessed what DU head coach Jim Montgomery called “a great college hockey game.” After the Fighting Hawks took a 2-0 lead in the second period, the Pioneers fought back to even the score with goals by Will Butcher and Matt VanVoorhis.

San Diego chapter leader Ian Bingham (BSBA ’09) described the emotions at the San Diego tavern as “very high” as the Pioneers clawed their way back. Until the final minute, it was anyone’s game. With just 56.8 seconds left, UND’s Nick Schmalts scored to give the Fighting Hawks a 3-2 lead. An empty net goal in the final seconds sealed the victory for UND and ended Denver’s season.

Despite the loss, the watch party organizers described the atmosphere as energetic, excited and — not unlike the game itself — a bit chaotic. The chapter leaders who helped organize the watch parties agreed that there is something special about sports events that allow alumni of all backgrounds to connect.

“Sports offer alumni that invaluable top-of-mind awareness,” says New York watch party organizer Dean Sullivan (BAA ’90). “They are able to bond and share in pride [in a way] that is cross-generational and cross-studies.”



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