The University of Denver beat Michigan Tech in familiar fashion Saturday night, winning 5-2. A night earlier, the Pioneers had also scored five en route to a 5-1 victory against the same Huskies.
DU is 4-0, and coincidentally has scored five goals in each of the victories. If the scores of No. 5 Denver (4-0-0, 2-0-0 WCHA) are starting sound familiar, so might the names that are leading the team to victory.
Shore, Zajac and Ostrow. All have their place in DU lore. All have made significant contributions to Denver this season.
Atop the team’s statistical leaderboard, you will find Nick Shore, who has four goals and five assists through the first five contests. Just last season, it was his older brother Drew that paced the Pioneers in scoring. Drew has since turned pro, but younger brother Quinton Shore has joined the fold this season, scoring a goal in each of this weekend’s contests.
Senior forward Shawn Ostrow has five points on the season. He also leads the team in plus/minus (+6). People may recognize his name, as older brother Kyle Ostrow played four years with the Pioneers and is currently a member of the Colorado Eagles of the CHL.
Perhaps the most intriguing name of the bunch however, is freshman Nolan Zajac. His father Tom played for Denver from 1973-76). Older brothers Travis (27) and Darcy (25) played for rival North Dakota; while Kelly Zajac (24) played for Union. Travis Zajac is currently playing a starring role with the New Jersey Devils as a top-six forward, while both Darcy and Kelly are in the team’s minor league system. Having been passed over in the NHL draft, Nolan is a free agent.
Of the entire Zajac clan, Nolan (20) is the only defenseman. With lightning speed and five points in four contests, offense is still on his mind quite often. In fact, Zajac moves to forward on the team’s first power-play unit. Seeing a forward man the point on the power-play is not that uncommon. Seeing a defenseman move up to forward however, is almost unheard of.
With all the strong bloodlines and exciting offense, it is easy to lose Denver’s stout defensive play in the mix. Lead by junior Dave Makowski and reigning WCHA Rookie of the Year Joey LaLeggia, the DU defense has allowed just six goals in four games. They have also accounted for 42.1 percent of the team’s offense. Goalies Sam Brittian and Adam Murray have a combined .953 save percentage.
With the loss of premier forwards Drew Shore and Jason Zucker after last season, DU entered this campaign with question marks. Now the only question is how far can they go?