Best DU Hockey Player 2002 | Wade Dubielewicz | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
No one personifies the resurgence of DU hockey like goalie Wade Dubielewicz. For much of the regular season, he and teammate Adam Berkhoel were the most effective "two-headed goalie" in the college game, but at crunch time, coach George Gwozdecky turned to "Dooby" to seal the nets. His .943 saves percentage led the nation as he won his second straight Western Collegiate Hockey Association goaltending title and was named to the all-WCHA first team. A 5'10" junior from Invermere, British Columbia, he idolized Avalanche star Patrick Roy as a child and was delighted when his hero paid a surprise visit to the Pioneers' locker room in February. Dubielewicz is one of ten finalists for the Hobey Baker Award, which honors the nation's best collegiate player.
In the ultra-tough Big 12 Conference, only two basketball players averaged a rare "double-double" in points and rebounds during the regular season. The first was consensus All-American Drew Gooden, star of the top-ranked Kansas Jayhawks; the other was Colorado's Stephane Pelle, a 6'9" junior forward from Yaounde, Cameroon. The Buffaloes had another bad hoops year (15-14; 5-11 in the Big 12), but Pelle scored 12.8 points per game and grabbed 10.8 rebounds to put himself in elite company. He shot 48 percent from the floor and sank 77 percent of his free throws; best of all, he's got another season left in Boulder.

The last remaining player from the great 1998-99 CSU team that went 33-3 and reached the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Tournament, senior forward Angie Gorton was the captain and undisputed leader of this year's tournament-bound club and the Mountain West Conference defensive player of the year. Her 81.3 free-throw percentage was the envy of the league, and this season the Eufala, Oklahoma, native gained second place on CSU's career-steals list (260) and ranks all-time third in blocked shots (67). Next up for Gorton: pro ball in Europe.

While University of Colorado men's hoopsters turned into wallflowers, CU's women cagers went on a rampage. Their strong season allowed them to host an opening NCAA tournament game -- which they won handily -- and gave them the Big Mo' to rock and roll to an upset of Stanford. Forget the fact that they stumbled against Oklahoma, turning the ball over 29 times on the way to a 94-60 loss that kept them from the Final Four; Coach Ceal Barry's squad still took big steps this season.

Everyone knows salsa is muy caliente, so it makes sense to use it to burn off calories. At her studio, Barbie Novoryta offers Cardio Salsa workouts that really make you feel the burn. And for those who'd like to learn more traditional Latin dances, Novoryta offers private lessons.

For a state that has a fairly low profile in roundball, things get springy in March, when the girls' and boys' Elite Eight move onto the court normally moped upon by the Nuggets. Look! There's the guard nailing a fifty-footer to send it into overtime! And there are the girls bravely bidding to upset the unstoppable Highlands Ranch squad! This spring basketball orgy is sport at its purest; the 2002 edition went a long way toward exorcising the baleful ghost of Nick the Sick Van Exel.

Best New Performance-Enhancing Beverage With Enhanced Tie-Ins

Go Fast! Sports Energy Drink

Last fall, Denver-based Go Fast! decided to put some fizz in its extreme-sports line of clothing. So they introduced Go Fast! energy drink to compete with picker-upper drinks such as Red Bull, and the new drink is more exotic sounding if you check the ingredients: Australian honey, Siberian ginseng and milk thistle are in the mixture. A company spokesman says that athletes the company sponsors in mountain biking, skydiving and snowboarding are already bullish.

In his playing days, Dan Issel was the most beloved Denver Nugget of them all, and his 27,482 career points rank him seventh among all ABA/NBA scorers. But Issel's two stints as the Nuggets' head coach were stormy and stressful -- losing always hurts -- and on the night of December 11, after dropping a squeaker to the Charlotte Hornets, Issel's notorious temper got the best of him when a Pepsi Center heckler caught his ear on the way to the locker room. From the Horse's mouth came the most incendiary exit line in Denver pro-sports history: "Go drink another beer, you Mexican piece of shit." The day after Christmas, Issel was out, and the sorry franchise's troubled history continued apace.

The same night he chose to reach out and insult somebody was the night that now-ex-Nuggets coach Dan Issel was being memorialized with a free bobblehead doll. No telling what those limited-edition souvenirs will fetch on eBay; we're not parting with ours. In fact, we're looking for a bobblehead-sized sombrero to give Dan more ethnic appeal.

Few took the art of learning to hit a baseball as seriously as Troy Slinkard, an Evergreen contractor who's set up a virtual batting lab at his home. Fathers eager to have their sons learn the secret of squarely striking a round ball with a round bat make the pilgrimage to Slinkard's home, and he rarely refuses an earnest request.

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