Athletics & Recreation / Magazine Feature

This Beau knows hockey

Beau Bennett and the DU Pioneers take the ice for their first home series of the 2010-11 year on Oct. 13 against the Boston College Eagles.

Before he even set foot on the University of Denver campus this fall, freshman Pioneer Beau Bennett became a National Hockey League first-round draft pick and then met the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Sidney Crosby, arguably hockey’s biggest superstar.

Not a bad summer.

“It was really an unreal moment,” Bennett says of his meeting with Crosby. “You grow up watching him and seeing all the things he’s doing, and then you end up meeting him and hopefully playing with him down the road. Just the opportunity to play with him down the road would be unbelievable. It was definitely an unreal experience.”

Bennett’s still got a ways to go before he plays for the Penguins, who took the 18-year-old forward with the 20th overall pick. But DU coach George Gwozdecky says he’ll get his chance to develop this season, one of a talented trio of offensive newcomers, along with Jason Zucker, a second round pick of the Minnesota Wild, and Nick Shore.

The coach says the Pioneers still have plenty of upperclassmen to provide leadership and shoulder the burden on the offensive end of the ice, and no one is expecting any one first-year player to bear too much of the burden. Instead, Gwozdecky says Bennett will get time to learn and develop, while still getting an opportunity to contribute.

“We’ve got three freshman forwards who are all very, very good offensively,” Gwozdecky says. “I think Beau is going to share his role with a lot of different forwards on this team. Beau is a very gifted offensive player, but it’s not going to fall on his shoulders. We’ve got three very experienced seniors in Kyle Ostrow, Anthony Maiani and Jesse Martin, and we expect them to carry a lot.”

Highly touted by scouts, Bennett brings quickness and “hockey smarts” to a Pioneers team that needs to replace starters lost over the summer to graduation or the professional ranks. Hockey news website touted Bennett’s “tantalizing offensive skillset and game breaking ability” and said he possesses “elite skating and scoring ability.”

But listed at 6-feet, 1-inch tall and 180 pounds, Bennett says he knows he needs to add muscle and hone his game. Coming out of California and wearing the same No. 9 sweater worn last year by fellow Californian Rhett Rakhshani, who graduated, Bennett says he’s adapting well to Denver and settling in to school.

“So far, it’s been a real smooth transition,” Bennett says. “I’ve got great roommates, great teammates, and Denver’s not so much different from California yet … at least until the winter hits. So it’s been a smooth transition so far, and I’m loving every minute of it.”

For the record, his roommates are Shore, Zucker and freshman netminder Sam Brittain, all guys he knew before arriving on campus.

Without declaring a major just yet, Bennett says he’s taking core classes and getting used to college life, with an eye toward earning a business degree. Someday, he says he’d like to open a chain of restaurants with his brother, Wade. Bennett says he knows he’s expected to hit the books and that DU’s hockey team has a reputation for excelling in the classroom as well as on the ice.

“We have study hall each week for a minimum of four hours so that gets you in there and making sure you finish your homework. I think once we start going on the road just managing time is going to be real key,” he says. “The seniors keep us honest. We do expect a lot from each other academics-wise. The captains especially are staying on us and making sure we’re going to class and doing the right thing.”

Bennett says NCAA hockey is also providing him with the on-ice education he sought.

“The guys are a lot older, a lot stronger, and a lot faster,” he says. “Being in the gym has helped a lot and being with the guys has helped a lot … [The WCHA] is one of the best leagues for sure. You’ve got to bring it every night, and it’s a short schedule, so you’ve got to make every game count … I’ve got really huge shoes to fill, by no means am I going to be at that level coming in, but hopefully I can just work hard and do all the right things and learn as much as I can in a short time and make an impact right off the bat, me as well as all the other freshman.”

The Pioneers kick off home games for the 2010-2011 hockey season Friday night at Magness Arena against Boston College. Friday night’s game starts at 7:37 p.m. and Saturday’s contest begins at 7:07 p.m. Visit for ticket information.


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