The Denver Post

Senior goalie Tanner Jaillet, a four-year starter at DU, is displaying his Pioneer spirit.

- By Mike Chambers

The top-ranked and defending national champion University of Denver hockey team will do more than unveil its eighth NCAA championsh­ip banner Friday night before the Pioneers’ home opener against Lake Superior State at Magness Arena.

DU senior goalie Tanner Jaillet, now a four-year starter, will debut a new helmet that honors all eight national title teams and features a large 1970s-circa image of Ron Grahame, the former Pioneers goalie, associate head coach and longtime administra­tor who was named athletic director Aug. 23.

Jaillet, who will use the new helmet through the rest of the season, donned a different one in last week’s season-opening 2-2 tie and 4-2 win at Notre Dame. He wanted the new mask to debut with the new banner.

“I think it speaks volumes about him and the respect he has with the history and tradition of DU hockey, and the game of hockey,” DU coach Jim Montgomery said of Jaillet, the 2017 Mike Richter Award winner as the country’s top goalie. “Him honoring all eight national champions and the great goalie of the past, Ron Grahame, who had an incredible career here, speaks volumes that it’s not about him — it’s about Denver.”

Jaillet recently showed Grahame the new helmet. Grahame was unavailabl­e to comment Thursday, but Jaillet knows he touched the fellow Canadian who played for DU from 1969-73.

“I think he’s pretty pumped about it,” Jaillet said.

The new helmet features the national-championsh­ip years — 1958, 1960, 1961, 1968, 1969, 2004, 2005 and 2017 — plus a Bible verse, Philippian­s 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthen­s me,” a cross, the Canadian flag, “JAILLET” across the chin and “DENVER” above the right ear.

“The past couple of years I’ve just had the same stuff, the DU crest, the ‘Denver’ with the (No.) 36,” Jaillet said. “This year, I thought I’d get creative and do something cool. You see (NHL) guys put throwback goalies on their mask, and was like, ‘Hey, I might as well do that here, with R.G., especially because he’s still so involved in our program.’ He’s like a Denver legend. And I wanted all the natty champs on there. Maybe it’s a little cocky to some people. But it’s part of the history, and we’re proud of our school.”

Jaillet is back with the Pioneers after a relatively quiet summer. Despite winning the Richter Award and earning first-team AllAmerica honors, he didn’t attract much attention as an undrafted NHL free agent.

At 5-foot-11, Jaillet lacks what all NHL teams covet — size. He declined to disclose how many teams he spoke to.

“Let’s just say there was a lack of interest,” he said. “And I figured, ‘What’s going to hurt coming back, playing with another great team?’ We’re going to have another great chance this year, and I still have some things to work on before I transfer to pro. I didn’t really see any negatives in coming back. I’m happy to be here, happy to contribute in any way I can for this team to win again. It’s fun. It’s fun being around these guys, and we have a good culture.”

Denver (1-0-1) hosts the Lakers of Lake Superior State (1-2-1) in a two-game nonconfere­nce series Friday and Saturday.

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