This month’s Historical Object is a 1957-1958 University of Denver (DU) Pioneer hockey souvenir program, entitled “Here They Come!: The 1957-58 Pioneers.”
DU has been playing Division I NCAA men’s ice hockey since 1949, when the Field House Arena (the predecessor to Magness Arena) was completed. Pioneer Hockey is one of the more successful hockey programs in the history of collegiate men’s ice hockey. As of 2012, the Pioneers are tied with the University of North Dakota for second in all-time NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Championships with 7, trailing only the University of Michigan, which has 9. Since the creation of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) in 1959, the Pioneers have won 9 WCHA Regular Season Championships and 14 WCHA Playoff Championships.
The 1957-58 hockey team was the first of many championship DU hockey teams. After compiling a 24-10-2 record, the 57-58 Pioneers defeated North Dakota 6-2 in the championship game in Minneapolis. The team also finished tied for first in the Western International Hockey League (WIHL), the school’s first-ever league crown. Coach Murray Armstrong, then in just his second season as head coach, had said publicly that he would quit if DU did not win a national title within three years. Armstrong went on to coach for another 29 years and win another 4 NCAA titles (1960, 1961, 1968, 1969). Armstrong retired in 1977 and passed away in 2010 at the age of 94. In 2008 the entire 1957-58 team was elected into the DU Athletic Hall of Fame.
This program from the Pioneers’ first championship year (1957-1958) features head shots of all DU athletics administrators, coaches, and players, and even includes players’ relationship statuses at the time the program was printed (the vast majority were apparently single). The program also features a handy illustrated guide (p.8) to hockey referee signals that “every fan should know.”