NCAA Hockey Tournament 2012: Denver Has Injury Questions Entering First Round

The Denver Pioneers were one of the preseason favorites in the WCHA, and they've been in the mix all season despite having key players battling injuries. The Pioneers spent the first half of the year without starting goalie Sam Brittain (Florida Panthers), and sophomore Beau Bennett (Pittsburgh Penguins) only played ten games before having to undergo wrist surgery.

Regardless, Denver has continued to overcome adversity and has been clutch when it matters the most, winning three straight games in overtime during its WCHA conference tournament run. While most teams would struggle without their starting goalie, the Pioneers blossomed with both Adam Murray and Juho Olkinuora holding their own in the net. That has continued with Brittain's return, as all three goalies have played more than 10 games and have a save percentage of over 90 percent. George Gwozdecky used all three in the conference tournament in a stretch that saw the team play six games in nine days.

The good news for Denver is that it appears that Bennett will be returning for the NCAA Tournament, but the team may be without another one of its core players in forward Jason Zucker (Minnesota Wild). Zucker scored twice in the WCHA Final Five but ended up leaving Saturday's championship game with an upper body injury. Right now he is day-to-day, but if the Pioneers miss Zucker and are shorthanded defensively, it will be tougher for the team to get to Tampa.

For more, visit SB Nation Denver. For more on the road to the Frozen Four in Tampa, stick with our 2012 NCAA hockey tournament StoryStream.

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