Pioneers freshman blueliner Ian Mitchell steps in as immediate contributor

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With the Denver Pioneers hockey team on pace for another successful season, plenty of the recognition is going towards players such as Henrik Borgstrom, Troy Terry, Tanner Jaillet, and Dylan Gambrell.

However, along with these players, a newcomer to the program is silently leading the charge for the Pioneers’ power play, as Ian Mitchell has 13 points in 18 games on the season.

“It is definitely exciting to see those results right off the bat, and it has been a great opportunity to play with some really elite players on the power play, so I’m trying to do what I can on that opportunity,” Mitchell explained.

Deciding where you want to continue your education can be challenging — but choosing the University of Denver was a no-brainer for Mitchell.

“The coaching staff was a big one. Monty (Coach Montgomery), Tavisan (Tavis MacMillan), and DC (David Carle) definitely blew me away with their knowledge of the game, and how they have made players better,” Mitchell said. “That, and they (University of Denver) have great schooling here, too. So I thought that after hockey is done, I would have a good degree, and hopefully can win a national championship here too.”

Prior to joining the Pioneers,  Mitchell was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the second round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. “It was a spectacular feeling; something that every kid dreams of growing up to get drafted into the NHL, and I had the opportunity to get selected to a great organization. Hopefully, I can crack the lineup someday,” Mitchell said.

Usually heading into an NHL draft, players have a good idea of what teams might select them. Mitchell had zeroed in on the Blackhawks. “Honestly, going into the year that was kind of the team that I had pinpointed and thought that my style of play really matched up with theirs… so I was over the moon that they took me,” Mitchell said.

For many young players, having a mentor that can ease them into the transition of playing in the NCAA is valuable. Fellow Blackhawks draft pick and defensive partner, Blake Hillman have served in that role for Mitchell. “He has been a great role model for me. He has kind of been through it all, things that I will be going through. So, I mean, even on the bench, we get paired with each other a lot, so [Hillman’s] just giving me advice in what to do, just that veteran savvy that he brings to the table [helps],” Mitchell said. “I’m really just trying to feed off of that and add to my game.”

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