DU’s third-string goalie Greg Ogard is a key contributor for Pioneers

It’s spring break at the University of Denver, but the Pioneers are preparing like professionals for their NCAA Tournament opener Saturday in Cincinnati against Michigan Tech. Helping the Pios get through the grind while their fellow students are out enjoying a break from school is goalie Greg Ogard, whose value to the program far exceeds his on-ice contributions.

One indication of his value is that he’s traveling with the team during the postseason, though he rarely plays. The affable and witty 25-year old third-string goalie is also a registered tutor at DU. He gets most of his business from his appreciative teammates.

“He makes the culture of the team strong,” said senior defenseman and team captain Will Butcher. “He’s literally the definition of what Pioneer hockey is outside the rink.”

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A finance major with a 3.96 grade-point average, Ogard is among five seniors who have already taken their last class at DU before graduating in June. Sixteen of DU’s 21 non-freshmen made the all-National Collegiate Hockey Conference academic team with GPAs above 3.0, including all nine seniors. Pioneers coach Jim Montgomery said Ogard has much to do with his team’s outstanding academic success, in addition to being a selfless teammate.

“His attitude and selflessness is incredible,” Montgomery said. “Not only is it nice to have someone that bright and willing to help, but how well he does and how he organizes himself teaches our players time management and how to study properly.”

In four seasons, the 6-foot-2 Ogard has seen action in just five games, for just 31 minutes. He’s allowed one goal on 10 shots. Montgomery said he added Ogard to the travel party for DU’s final regular-season series at Omaha “for just being a great teammate.”

“It’s just a matter of putting forth the effort,” Ogard said of being able to balance hockey and academics. “Anything I can do to make sure my teammates are studying, getting their homework done and have an understanding of what’s going on with the class is going to lower the academic stress so they’ll be ready to play. That’s a big part of what I can bring, because I’m not playing. But I can help.”

Ogard was born in Green Way, Wis., and his family moved to the Chicago area at age 12. He played triple-A hockey for the Chicago Young Americans and his high school before playing two years of junior-A after graduation — which is why he’s much older than his teammates.

But Ogard already has business acumen. He had a paid internship at Citigroup in Chicago last summer and will start full-time with the company in June.

“Mergers and acquisitions — valuation of companies and looking at data and equity financing if they need addition capital,” Ogard said of job. “It’s a two-year program and if I really like it I might stay there, but I really want to get back to Denver at some point and get into private equity.”

Sophomore wing Troy Terry and linemate Henrik Borgstrom, a freshman center from Finland, are two of Ogard’s pupils.

“Having him tutoring me, big help,” said Borgstrom, who is in his first year in North America. “The guy’s a genius.”

Said Terry: “I’m actually trying to be a finance major, so it works out better for me. He does everything for us, even on the ice. He’s always taking shots. Where he helps the most is academics, and he’s so open to help anyone — whether it’s a science class that he’s not really sure about, but he’ll learn it for you. Or he’ll help you with a class that he already knows.”

Footnote. DU will practice at 9:30 a.m. Thursday at home before chartering to Cincinnati. The Midwest Regional top-seeded Pioneers (29-7-4, No. 1 PairWise Ranking) will practice at U.S. Bank Arena, home of the ECHL’s Cincinnati Cyclones, Friday afternoon. They play No. 4 Michigan Tech (23-14-7, No. 27 PWR) on Saturday in the first regional, 11 a.m. MT, before No. 2 Union College (25-9-3, No. 8 PWR) faces No. 3 Penn State (24-11-2, No. 9 PWR). Sunday’s regional championship is at 4 p.m. MT.

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