the Golden Gophers from Minnesota at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. The Gophers dominated from the opening minutes, and won the game 5-2. DU then traveled to Boston to take on the Boston College Eagles at Conte Forum. Once again, Denver fell, this time 6-2 to Jerry York's squad. The following night Denver won their first game of the season against Northeastern 4-2. Denver then opened their home schedule, including the banner raising ceremony, with a weekend sweep of the St. Cloud State Huskies. The three game win-streak was shortlived, as Denver dropped the opener at Wisconsin the following weekend before rebounding with a 5-3 win in the rubber match. Two more splits, one with arch-rival Colorado College, and the other with the Gophers at Magness had Denver off to a less than impressive 6-5-0 start to the season.
Fortunately for Denver, bluer skies were on their way. Following the Gophers series, the Pioneers went on an eight game unbeaten streak. It started with a home win over Boston University 4-1, and then another strong outing with a 6-1 win over Massachusetts. The Pioneers then traveled up to Houghton, MI, to take on the Huskies of Michigan Tech. Denver took all four points winning 5-1 and 4-2. The Pioneers then traveled up to Duluth to take on the Bulldogs who were looking to enact a bit of revenge from their 2004 Frozen Four semifinal defeat to Denver. Friday Night was a classic contest, and ultimately the game finished with a 4-4 overtime draw. The two squads battled to overtime again the next night, but Jeff Drummond scored just 15 seconds into the extra frame for the Pioneers, and Denver took three of the four points. Following the Christmas break, Denver hosted the Denver Cup, and won the title with a 9-4 victory over Air Force, and then a 4-0 victory over Northeastern. Coming out of the New Years Holiday, Denver now sported a 13-5-1 record, and was looking towards March and April in pursuit of more hardware.
Perhaps the Pioneers were looking too far forward, as Denver dropped their opening WCHA contest of 2005. The 3-0 loss to Michigan Tech snapped their winning streak, but Denver quickly started another. Denver beat Tech 1-0 the following night, then proceeded to sweep St. Cloud State in St. Cloud, and beat a pesky Anchorage squad at home before their road series up to Grand Forks to take on the Fighting Sioux of North Dakota. The Sioux were another squad looking for revenge, as the 2004 Pioneers beat the Sioux in an epic Regional Final 1-0. Despite the adrenaline pumping for the Sioux, Denver took care of business, sweeping the Sioux, winning both games by 4-2 scores. Wisconsin then came to Denver to take on the Pios, and Denver won the opener 4-3 before drawing with the Badgers 3-3 on Saturday. Minnesota Duluth made their way to Magness Arena the following weekend, and DU won the opener 5-4 to stretch their unbeaten streak to ten games. The Pioneers were 22-6-2, and were 16-1-2 over their last 19 games.
The great streak would come crashing to a halt the next night against the Bulldogs. Duluth scored six goals in a 6-3 victory over DU. Mankato came to Denver the following weekend, and the goals kept pouring in to the Denver nets. Mankato scored eight goals en route to a 8-5 victory, and all of a sudden Denver was in a mild funk. A 5-2 victory over Mankato the following night ended their mini losing streak. Denver was now in a tie with Colorado College heading into the final weekend of WCHA play. The series would be a home and home series, with each side able to clinch a share of the MacNaughton Cup on Friday in Colorado Springs. CC got a great performance from Curtis McElhinney, and the Tigers skated the MacNaughton around World Arena with a 3-0 victory. CC needed only a draw to keep Denver from getting a share of the cup, but the Saturday Night contest at Magness Arena featured a dominating performance by DU. The Pioneers dominated CC winning 5-0 to skate the cup around their home rink.
The WCHA Tournament followed the next weekend, and Denver played host to Michigan Tech. The Pioneers routed the Huskies 7-1 in game one, but game two would see a much closer game. Despite outshooting Tech 46-24, Denver saw themselves in a 0-0 game with only a few minutes remaining in regulation. Finally, with just under two minutes remaining, Adrian Veideman scored to give Denver a 1-0 advantage. That would be all that DU would need, and Denver won the series to advance to St. Paul for the first time since 2002. In the Friday Semifinal, DU played rival North Dakota, a team that was on a hot streak heading into the postseason. In a game marred by the severe injury Robbie Bina suffered, Denver was able to keep their composure and focus, and won the game in overtime 2-1. That set up a rematch with arch-rival Colorado College for the Broadmoor Trophy. In a tight contest, Luke Fulghum scored the games only goal, and Denver won the Broadmoor Trophy 1-0. The Pioneers were peaking at the right time, as they headed into the NCAA Tournament.
The top-seeded Pios drew Bemidji State in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament. While most people predicted a DU blowout, the Beavers had other ideas. Bemidji stayed even with Denver the whole way, and as the buzzer sounded to end the third period, it was a 3-3 game. Fortunately for Denver, they quickly scored, and advanced to the Regional Final with a 4-3 overtime victory. In the Regional Final, Denver squared off against New Hampshire. Another close contest, the score was 2-2 with just under four minutes left in the game. Finally, Ryan Dingle scored, and Gabe Gauthier sealed the deal with an empty netter to send Denver to the Frozen Four in Columbus with a 4-2 victory.
The 2005 Frozen Four is most notable because all four teams were from the same conference. It was an all-rival semifinals as Denver took on Colorado College, and North Dakota faced Minnesota. Denver astonished the crowd, most of whom expected a tight contest, by destroying CC 6-2. North Dakota defeated Minnesota in the nightcap, and it was Denver against North Dakota for the National Championship for the fourth time. Denver had beaten the Sioux twice before for the title, once in 1958 and again in 1968. The Sioux beat the Pioneers for the 1963 title. It was an epic game featuring the best team in the country, Denver, and perhaps the hottest team in the country, North Dakota. Jeff Drummond led off the scoring in the first period to give Denver a 1-0 lead, but North Dakota answered quickly with a goal of their own to tie the game at 1. As the game wore on, North Dakota began to impose their physical style of play on Denver, but were unable to take the lead. The Sioux thought they had taken a 2-1 advantage, as it appeared that the puck went into DU goalie Peter Mannino's glove and past the goal line. A review was inconclusive, and the game remained 1-1. Finally, at the midpoint of the second period, Paul Stastny scored to give Denver a 2-1 lead. The Sioux tried to knot the game up in the third, firing 23 shots on goal in the period, but Mannino stood strong, and when Paul Stastny scored his second goal of the game to give the Pioneers a 3-1 advantage, the Mile High City began to celebrate. Gabe Gauthier scored an empty net goal with just less than two minutes left in the game, and Denver would hold on for a 4-1 victory. As the final buzzer sounded, gloves and sticks flew into the air. Denver was the 2005 National Champion, and repeated for the third time in program history. The 2004-2005 Denver Pioneers were an amazing squad that finished the season on a nine game winning streak. As a result, the 2004-2005 Denver Pioneers will go down as one of the Greatest College Hockey Teams of All-Time.