Just two days out from the 2015-16 opener, Jim Montgomery has something positive to tell his Denver University Pioneers men’s hockey team. Nine guys who laced up skates at Magness Arena will be lacing them up for NHL teams on opening day.

Beau Bennett (Pittsburgh), Tyler Bozak (Toronto), Matt Carle (Tampa Bay), Joe Colborne (Calgary), Matt Donovan (Buffalo Sabres),  Nick Shore (Los Angeles), Paul Stastny (St. Louis), Patrick Wiercioch (Ottawa) and Jason Zucker (Minnesota), all former Pioneers, all appeared on their team’s respective opening day rosters.

That ought to be a confidence builder for the No. 5 (USCHO) Pioneers when they open against Air Force for a home-and-home series that starts on Friday in Colorado Springs.

Five current Pioneers have rights held by NHL teams: Will Butcher (Colorado Avalanche), Evan Cowley (Florida Panthers), Danton Heinen (Boston Bruins), Quentin Shore (Ottawa Senators) and Troy Terry (Anaheim Ducks).

A solid season this year could put each one closer to joining the ranks of Pioneers who have skated in the NHL.

Montgomery enters his third season in charge of the team after securing the program’s seventh-straight NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Championship Tournament berth last March and making it to the Elite Eight for the first time since 2011. The Pioneers went 24-14-2 last season (13-10-1-1 NCHC) and are ranked second in the NCHC pre-season media poll heading into this year.