Denver Pierce “doing well” at NMU

January 22, 2016

Sault Ste. Marie area product Denver Pierce has earned a regular shift and words of praise from his coach as a freshman forward with the Northern Michigan Wildcats of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.

A 5-foot-11, 185-pound, 1995 birth-year winger who could have played another season of junior hockey this 2015-2016 campaign, Pierce instead has seen regular minutes and been a “good, solid contributor,” according to Northern Michigan head coach Walt Kyle, who is in his 14th year as bench boss at the Marquette-based university.

Kyle told that the original plan going into this season was for Pierce to spend his final year of junior eligibility in the North American Hockey League.

“Then we decided to bring him in but to be honest, we saw him as a depth guy,” Kyle said of Pierce, who had played the previous three seasons with the Soo Eagles, then of the NAHL, now of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League.

But after sitting out three games in late November, Pierce has since been in the Northern Michigan lineup for 10 straight outings — and taking a regular shift.

“Denver is doing well…he has been a pleasant surprise,” said Kyle. “He is a hard-working kid who plays his position well.”

Kyle added that Pierce “plays a very similar game” to that of another Michigan Soo product, forward Ray Kaunisto, who played four seasons at Northern Michigan, ending in 2010.

“Denver is like Ray in a lot of ways, a big, strong forward who works hard, is coach-able and is always in the right position on the ice,” Kyle added in further praise of Pierce.

From his end, Pierce said he enjoys playing for the veteran Kyle.

“He’s a really good coach,” Pierce said of Kyle. “He’s really good at teaching us the game and he makes sure that we work hard in practice and pay attention to all the little details. I like playing for him.”

As for combining hockey with school — he’s studying Engineering and Industrial Technology at Northern Michigan — Pierce said “it can be difficult and stressful. But so far I am an ‘A’ student, so I guess I will be okay.”

On the ice, Pierce has played in 19 of the Wildcats 24 games and has 3 goals and 2 assists. He had a goal and an assist in his most-recent outing, which was a 5-3 win over the Alaska Nanooks.

With a record of 7-7-4 within the hotly-contested WCHA (they are 9-9-6 overall) the Wildcats are in fifth place in league play but only a point behind the fourth-place Ferris State Bulldogs.

On the flip side, Northern Michigan — which has a bye this weekend — is only a point up on the sixth-place Bemidji State Beavers and just two points ahead of the seventh-place Lake Superior State Lakers in the 10-team WCHA.

The Lakers, who have played the fewest games in the WCHA, are at Minnesota State for games tonight and Saturday against the first-place Mavericks. Both games will be broadcast on Sault Ste. Marie radio station 99.5 YES-FM with Bill Crawford calling the play-by-play.

PHOTO: Denver Pierce (far left) and the Northern Michigan Wildcats celebrate a victory earlier this season.

What you think about “Denver Pierce “doing well” at NMU”

    1. We all new since Denver was alittle boy that he was going to go far with his hockey career he always worked so hard and gave it his all we are all so proud of you “D” and we love you so much!

  1. I have had the pleasure of having Denver on my team the last 3 years. He is a great example of what every young hockey player in the Soo should strive to be on and off the ice. Great determination, great work ethic and completely fearless. Never complained about anything, never felt entitled to anything he just went out and earned it. He truly gets it. Couldn’t be happier or prouder for him.

    — Coach Bruno and the Soo Eagles organization.

  2. Thanks for another great article Randy! Denver IS a great player and an even better young man! So nice to hear that NMU gave him the chance to earn his spot…and he did!! Very proud of you Denver! Keep working hard and keep on shooting…GOOD THINGS HAPPEN! Love ya buddy! The Matson’s

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