Montgomery guides Denver to national crown, tabbed USCHO coach of the year for efforts

 (2017 Melissa Wade)
In 2016, Jim Montgomery took Denver to the Frozen Four. In 2017, he took them to a national championship (photo: Melissa Wade).

It would not be accurate to say Jim Montgomery inherited a bare cupboard when he started as Denver’s coach in the fall of 2013.

On the contrary, the Pioneers were a seasoned NCAA tournament team, even if the end result wasn’t there. They had made the field of 16 in six straight seasons before George Gwozdecky was stunningly fired.

Under Montgomery, the Pioneers have continued to be major players on the national stage. That reached the highest of heights this season, and that’s why Montgomery is USCHO’s coach of the year for 2016-17.

Denver won the regular season crown in the NCHC, statistically the toughest league in the country, and earned the top seed for the NCAA tournament.

The Pioneers then defeated Michigan Tech, Penn State, Notre Dame and NCHC regular-season runner-up Minnesota Duluth to claim the program’s eighth national championship.

After losing the first two games of the season, the Pioneers never lost consecutive games the rest of the way. They finished with 18 victories in their last 19 games.

DU’s 33-7-4 record in 2016-17 was the program’s best since 1977-78.

USCHO awards were selected by staff members covering the Frozen Four.