The Denver University hockey program formally announced the incoming freshmen class for the 2023–24 season. The Pioneers will welcome five forwards, four defensemen and one goalie—10 in all—to a roster looking to capture their second national championship in three years.
“We’re excited to add these 10 players to our roster for next season and believe these new Pioneers will fit into the culture of our team,” said head coach David Carle in a recent release. “This class features versatile players that will be key contributors to our program for years to come, and I’m looking forward to seeing these student-athletes continue to build on our Pioneer legacy on the ice and in the classroom.”
The 2023–24 freshmen class is highlighted by forwards Sam Harris and Miko Matikka, who both spent last season in the USHL.
Harris is surprisingly physical for his size (5-foot-11) and provided a consistent scoring touch for the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede. The San Diego native was a point-per-game player in 2022–23 for “the Herd,” scoring 56 points (30 goals, 26 assists) in 56 games. Harris is a player who routinely picked up goals in front of the net, cleaning up loose pucks on second-chance opportunities. He brings the ability to play in all situations to the Pioneers, showcasing strong details on the penalty kill to take away passing lanes while applying pressure on the puck carrier.
Matikka is a big-bodied forward with quick hands and can create on his own. The 19-year-old spent last season split between the USHL’s Madison Capitols and Waterloo Black Hawks, acquired for the latter’s second-half run, scoring a combined 55 points (27 goals, 28 assists) in 58 games. He has good north-south speed, excellent puck skills, a heavy shot and did most of his damage below the dots.
Along the blueline, Zeev Buium joins his older brother, Shai, in the Pioneer family, having spent the last two seasons developing at the United States National Team Development Program in Plymouth, Michigan. The younger Buium had 40 points (five goals, 35 assists) in 63 games for the U-18 Team in 2022–23. He is a dynamic defenseman who features a quick release but made a name for himself at the NTDP primarily as a setup man along the blue line.
Buium recently participated in the 2023 World Junior Summer Showcase and could be in contention to represent Team USA at the upcoming 2024 World Junior Championships.
Here is Denver’s incoming freshmen class in its entirety:
|Name||Pos||Ht||Wt||Junior Team||Hometown||NHL Rights|
|Sam Harris||F||5-11||185||Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL)||San Diego, California||MTL|
|Alex Weiermair||F||6-1||190||USNTDP (USHL)||Los Angeles, California|
|Miko Matikka||F||6-3||201||Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL)||Helsinki, Finland||ARI|
|Kieran Cebrian||F||6-2||194||Tri-City Storm (USHL)||Denver, Colorado|
|Peter Lajoy||F||5-7||165||Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks (AJHL)||Evergreen, Colorado|
|Cale Ashcroft||D||5-10||185||Tri-City Storm (USHL)||St. Albert, Alberta|
|Boston Buckberger||D||5-11||172||Lincoln Stars (USHL)||Saskatoon, Saskatchewan|
|Garrett Brown||D||6-3||192||Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL)||San Jose, California||WPG|
|Zeev Buium||D||5-11||177||USNTDP (USHL)||San Diego, California|
|Freddie Halyk||G||6-5||203||Lloydminster Bobcats (AJHL)||Cochrane, Alberta|