Pio My, Denver Captures National Championship

Pioneers score five goals in the third period to earn the school’s 9th NCAA Hockey title.

Boston, MA – It took over forty minutes, but once the Denver Pioneers solved the puzzle that is the Minnesota St. Mavericks defense and Hobey Baker Award-winning goalie Dryden McKay the flood gates opened. Trailing 1-0 heading into the third period, the Pioneers had managed only eight shots on goal. Twenty minutes, a dozen shots, and five goals later, Denver was crowned NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey National Champions with a sell-out TD Garden crowd.

The 5-1 win snapped the Mavericks’ 18-game winning streak and put the Pioneers in a tie with Michigan for most National Championships in NCAA ice hockey.

“Our alumni group is very tight and it certainly was a goal to get to nine,” said Denver head coach David Carle. “The ultimate goal is to be the first one to 10, I will tell you. Winning Thursday against Michigan, the team at 9, was a huge step in that direction. And obviously tonight is an even bigger step.”

Denver sophomore Mike Benning was the first penalty of the game, and it cost the Pioneers when he went to the box for Tripping at 12:23.

Sam Morton capitalized on the man advantage when he beat Magnus Chrona five-hole to give the Mavericks the 1-0 lead at 13:59 of the first period. Lucas Sowder and Brendan Furry assisted on Morton’s ninth when Sowder gathered Furry’s rebound and swung a pass to Morton at the left face-off dot for the game’s only goal through two periods.

Minnesota St. Mavericks junior forward Sam Morton celebrates his first-period goal giving the Mavericks the 1-0 lead against the Denver Pioneers during the NCAA National Championship game at TD Garden on April 9, 2022.

The Mavericks had the game’s subsequent two penalties in the late first and early second periods. Denver didn’t generate much on either chance, while Minnesota St. had a solid shorthanded attempt on each.

Chrona turned away Josh Groll on the first one and David Silye on a breakaway during the second one. The 6′-5″ junior from Stockholm, Sweden, made 24 saves during 60 minutes of action.

“Magnus made save after save there in big moments. I think that gave the guys life that he’s putting it on the line for us,” said Carle of Chrona’s performance. “We need to up our game. And again, in the second, I thought it was an opportunity for us to take a breath again and come out and play Denver hockey for the last 20.”

Denver Pioneers goalie Magnus Chrona makes one of his 24 saves during the Pioneers’ 5-1 win over the Minnesota St. Mavericks in the NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey National Championship game at TD Garden on Saturday, April 9, 2022.

“They were outplaying us, but at the end of the day they were only up 1-0,” said senior assistant captain Ryan Barrow. “So one shot changes the entire outlook on the game.”

Barrow was just the man to take that shot that changed the course of the game. At 4:46 of the third period, the 6′-2″ forward found himself alone in front of McKay as Benning fired off a shot from the right circle. McKay saved it, but Barrow knocked the rebound past McKay to even score 1-1.

“I think we’re a defense-oriented team. Obviously we’re trying to defend hard,” said Morton. “We didn’t want to let up a goal, but usually you need more than one to win a hockey game. I think it deflated us a little bit.”

With Mavericks goal scorer Morton off for Tripping at 5:26, the Pioneers capitalized on the man advantage shortly before it expired when Benning beat McKay with a one-timer from the left face-off dot at 7:33. Carter Mazur and Justin Lee assisted on Benning’s 15th.

“I’m just kind of overwhelmed with everything,” said Benning of his goal. “But I saw a shot and took it. Went with my gut, and now we’re here. So I’m happy.”

The Denver Pioneers and some fans celebrate Mike Benning’s game-winning goal against the Minnesota St. Mavericks in the NCAA National Championship game at TD Garden on April 9, 2022. The Pioneers won 5-1 to earn the school’s ninth hockey title.

“I thought I gave up a rebound on that (first) one. They capitalized,” said Mavericks goalie McKay. “Then we took a penalty shortly after. It was just a bad bounce. And then a guy makes a nice shot on the power play. All of a sudden it’s 2-1, and just never really recovered. It would have been nice to make a few more saves for the guys, keep it at one or two,but it just didn’t happen.”

“It was a heck of a shot. They worked it around the power play and the guy just opened it up for a one-timer, went by my D’s face and right over my shoulder,short side. Good shot by him,” said a dejected McKay.

“They’re a pretty sound team, they’re older,” said Benning of the Mavericks. “He’s a really good goalie but he’s not perfect. So obviously I saw a shot and took it. And Barrow saw a shot and took it. We just kind of picked away at the game piece by piece. And I think that’s how we found our success tonight.”

Six minutes later, Massimo Rizzo made it 3-1 Pioneers when he buried a Mazur pass during a two-on-one from the bottom of the right circle for his 12th.

Denver Pioneers Massimo Rizzo beats Minnesota St. Mavericks goalie Dryden McKay with a one-timer on a two-on-one during the Pioneers’ five-goal third period in the National Championship game at TD Garden on April 9, 2022.

The last two Pioneer goals came courtesy of empty-net goals. The 4-1 strike came at 17:28 when senior centerman Brett Stapley fired in a shot from the neutral zone for his 18th.

Thirty-two seconds later, senior Cameron Wright added a backhander from the right-side boards to cap off the evening 5-1. Mazur picked up his third assist on the evening on Wright’s 23rd.

“Words don’t describe the feelings. I’m so proud of our team and what they could accomplish this year. It means the world to our staff and players to be a part of this journey with these guys,” said Carle. “It was just so much fun. They committed to each other every day to get better. It was not easy, but they continued to stick with it.”

“We faced our biggest test tonight,” added Carle. “Mike Hastings and his staff have an excellent hockey team. They made us earn it. You have to earn this trophy. And our guys earned it tonight. And we are so proud of them.”

The National Champion Denver Pioneers. Left to Right, Head Coach David Carle, goalie Magnus Chrona, forward Mike Benning, and forward Ryan Barrow.

“I thought we got off to a good start, even a good 40 minutes,” said Hastings of his Mavericks. “Once we gave up the first one, I thought we started leaking oil a little bit and couldn’t stop the bleeding. They scored a power play goal to get it to two. And then we started chasing the game a little bit.”

“I think tonight’s a perfect example of understanding that a minimum of 60 minutes at this time is going to be something that you have to have. And I thought we had a good 40 and not a great last 20,” Hastings added.

The Pioneers raised the National Championship trophy for the third time in the city of Boston. The first came in 1960 at the old Boston Garden, the second at TD Garden in 2004, and again Saturday night.

“We have four now since the turn of the century, I think that’s the most out of anybody. We’ve done it with three different head coaches, that’s very impressive,” Carle said of the DU legacy. “You come here to try to win championships.”

“It’s not easy to play at Denver. We challenge recruits when they come on campus. We challenge our players. We hold them accountable,” said Carle. “It’s a big responsibility to play in our program. And ultimately, it takes people who are ‘team first’ and who want to be part of something bigger than themselves. So to do it again in Boston, that team really did put Denver hockey back on the modern map. And we’re here to stay.”

NCAA Final Preview – Denver vs. Minnesota St.

Pioneers and Mavericks Face-off for National Championship

Boston, MA – All of the hard work competing at the NCAA level came to fruition for one school tonight. Will it be a return to the promised land for one of college hockey’s storied programs, the Denver Pioneers? The Pioneers have won the National Championship eight times, most recently in 2017. Or will it be the new kid on the block, the Minnesota St. Mavericks? The Mavericks are playing in their first National Championship game after jumping to Division I hockey in the 1996-97 season.

The Frozen Four at TD Garden has lived up to the hype. The title game should be one for the ages as college hockey’s top two offensive teams take the ice for an 8:00 pm EST start on Saturday night.

The Mavericks have been the best team since the 2021-22 season. They came east to open the season against the defending National Champion Massachusetts Minutemen, where they promptly swept the Minutemen. The Pioneers have had to push the proverbial cart up the mountain to get to this point. Their season has been a steady climb to get to this point.

On Thursday, the Pioneers and the Mavericks used their defensive prowess to stifle talented Michigan and Minnesota teams to reach the finals. Most commentators expected a high-scoring affair that didn’t materialize in the Denver vs. Michigan game. The Pioneers limited the high-flying Wolverines to just 21 shots on goal through three-and-a-half periods of action in their 3-2 overtime win.

The Mavericks have the game’s best goalie in Dryden McKay. Their defense and McKay shut down the Gophers’ offense after allowing a goal on their first shot during a two-on-oh opportunity in the first period of their 5-1 win in the nightcap at the Garden.

“What you do with the puck is one thing, but it’s just as important what you’re doing without the puck to get it back,” said Minnesota St. head coach Mike Hastings. “Both teams, you watch Denver. They’re about as detailed a team that I’ve seen with their sticks, getting back on top, what they did to an incredibly talented Michigan team. When we got behind in the game (against Minnesota), I thought it was still really important that we continue to defend so they didn’t extend the lead, then when we didn’t have the puck get it back so we could get on offense.”

“I just think there are two sides to the game. You have to be committed to both sides of that I think to be effective at this time (of the year). That’s why I think both teams moved on with the opportunity for Saturday,” added Hastings.

The Denver Pioneers celebrate Cameron Wright’s go-ahead goal at 5:36 of the third period. The celebration was short-lived as Michigan forced overtime before falling 3-2 on Thursday, April 7, 2022, at TD Garden in Boston, MA.

“We have our way of playing the game,” said Denver head coach David Carle. “I think it’s adaptable to any style we go against. We’re comfortable in a lot of different types of games. That’s a credit to the players and their ability to stick to our game plans and stick to our structure and be able to execute in different ways based on what the game’s calling.”

“I think it’s predictable and fast,” said Carle of the Pioneers’ transition game. “Our D doesn’t hang on to the puck too long. I think our forwards like to get the puck quicker so they can have the puck, can do what they do, attacking off the rush, or getting pucks in behind defensive opponents. It allows our team to play fast and make our opponents uncomfortable.”

McKay won the Hobey Baker Award for being college hockey’s top player on Friday. It is just the third time a goalie has won the award in the competition’s 42-year history. A netminder won the award in 2001 when Michigan State’s Ryan Miller won. McKay’s statistics speak for themselves, 38-4 record, including an 18-game winning streak. The senior carries a 1.27 goals-against average, second-best overall, and a .934 save percentage, good for third. McKay has ten shutouts on the season and is the NCAA career record holder with 26.

Carle and the Pioneers know what is ahead of them in McKay and the Mavericks.

“They’re in this game for a reason, too. There’s not a lot of weaknesses just like there weren’t in Minnesota or Michigan,” said Carle. “We played three really good teams thus far. This will be the fourth one. I think there are some similarities with the level that they defend at with Lowell and Duluth. We’ve had success against those teams doing things a certain way.”

“I think that’s a great experience that we have coming into the game,” added Carle on Denver’s route through the tournament. “Coach Hastings and their staff and players, they’ve obviously built something really special that we respect and are excited for the challenge to play them for a banner and a big trophy come Saturday night.”

Senior Cameron Wright echoed his coach’s sentiment on the similarities between the styles of previous opponents.

“One thing that helps is our regional. They (MSU) play so much similar to Lowell and Duluth,” added the 6′-1″ winger from Newmarket, Ontario. “That’s a good starting point for us. I think just playing our game. We’ve been successful quite a bit this year. So continue to do that and hope we can get the job done.”

The question mark for the Pioneers coming in was their goaltending situation. Magnus Chrona has quieted that talk after holding the Wolverines to two goals in the semifinal. The 6′-5″ Swede has allowed five goals in the Pioneers’ previous three postseason games and only seven in their last six, including the NCHC Conference playoffs.

“It’s playoff hockey, and it can’t get better than that,” said Chrona. “I think we’re having a great time out there with each other. It’s just fun to be a part of.”

There’s a plethora of talent on each team, like Hobey Baker Hat-Trick nominee Bobby Brink and Cole Guttman on Denver and Nathan Smith and Julian Napravnik on the Mavericks. But, some other players have been chipping in in remarkable ways.

Keep an eye on Denver’s Carter Savoie. The 5″-10″ sophomore has been outstanding all season but lights out during the Pioneers’ run through the NCAA tourney. Savoie has a goal in all three games thus far, including two straight game-winning goals to keep Denver alive. When the lights are shining, Savoie is there to bask in the glow.

Wright has been equally as important during the NCAA’s. He had the game-winner against UMass-Lowell in the opening round in Loveland, CO., and scored against the Wolverines in the third period to briefly give the Pioneers the lead.

The Mavericks have had more balance from their scoring but keep an eye out for Reggie Lutz and Ondrej Pavel. At opportune times, each has two goals in the tournament, which has been the Mavericks’ calling card. Strong defense and getting timely goals.

Each team has celebrated at one of the TD Garden ends, but only one will have the ultimate celebration. Stay tuned.

 

Mavericks Punch Ticket to Championship

Minnesota St. scores five unanswered to set up a Finals showdown with Denver.

Boston, Ma – The Minnesota St. Mavericks continue to impress as they sent their second straight Big Ten foe home for the season after beating the Minnesota Golden Gophers 5-1 on Thursday at TD Garden. The Mavericks had five different goal scorers, and Dryden McKay stopped all but the first of 17 Gophers shots to earn his 38th win of the year.

The Mavericks haven’t trailed in the NCAA postseason until the Gophers capitalized on a Benton Maas turnover. Matthew Knies put the Gophers ahead 1-0 at 8:52 of the first period when he and Bryce Brodzinski played cat and mouse with McKay on a two-on-zero breakaway. Knies banged in his 15th at the right post.

“I saw Matt (Knies) out of the corner of my eye. I turned around; I knew I had to get him involved,” said Brodzinski. “That was kind of our only way of beating the goalie; getting him to move laterally was something we harped on a little bit.”

“Yeah, it was a big opportunity, especially being our first shot of the game. Being able to crack them early kept us in it for a while,” added the 6′-0″ junior of the Gophers solving McKay.

Matthew Knies leads the Minnesota Golden Gophers celebration after giving the Gophers the 1-0 lead in the first period of Minnesota St.’s 5-1 win Thursday, April 7, 2022, at TD Garden.

“You got to give them (Minnesota St.) an enormous amount of credit,’ said Minnesota coach Bob Motzko. “For big chunks of the game, they kicked our butt. The first period was great. We got the lead. We withstood it.”

“I couldn’t tell you the last time I faced a two-on-oh in a game,” said McKay of the lone Gopher goal. “Wish I could have come up with it. I think we do enough of them in practice.”

“Not exactly the start we wanted, giving up a two-on-oh goal,” said Minnesota St. head coach Mike Hastings. “I was hoping Dryden (McKay) was going to be able to pull the bacon out of the fire, it didn’t happen. They (Minnesota) got off to a good start. We had talked about that being a very important piece for us.”

“I thought we played a very good first period even though we were down. The guys did a really good job of just sticking with it. There wasn’t a lot of panic on the bench or in the locker room,” added Hastings. “As they have this entire season, they stuck with it, and they were rewarded for it. It was a good effort for us. We’re excited to have an opportunity to play for a national championship.”

Despite the 1-0 lead, Minnesota St. had the edge in shots on goal 11-4 at the end of the first. The momentum caught up with the shot total as the Mavericks netted two goals in the second period.

“I think the last time we were behind was probably against Bemidji in the conference championship,” said McKay about not trailing during the tournament. “It’s not like it’s unfamiliar to us. There are plenty of games this year where the other team scored first and we still had to find a way. We’re a mature group. It doesn’t really seem to matter to us whether we’re up or down. We keep fighting, keep playing our game, eventually, we got rewarded.”

Rewarded indeed, two goals in six minutes put the Mavs back in the familiar position of being ahead.

“We made a couple of mistakes in the second period,” said Motzko. “They scored exactly how we knew we had to defend. Then we were chasing the game. We made it close a couple of times.”

The Minnesota St. Mavericks discuss advancing to the NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Championship to face the Denver Pioneers on Saturday, April 9, 2022, at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.

Maas, a defenseman, found himself below the Minnesota goal line alone, so he made his way towards the Gophers’ goal and beat Justen Close (27 saves) with a wraparound shot at the far post at 7:22 for his third goal.

Lucas Sowder made a pretty good play to get the puck down low to me. I did a little shoulder check and saw I had more time and space than I thought and could get to the side of the net,” said Maas of his goal. “Coach is a big preacher on if we get there, it’s got to go to the net. I just threw it on the net and hoped for a rebound because I knew we had guys in front. Fortunately, it was able to go in at the far side.”

Reggie Lutz followed up with a wraparound bid of his own at 13:31. Lutz had a stuff attempt at the right post turned away by Close’s skate before corraling his rebound to try his luck at the left post for his 15th.

“When I was younger, every time I would score a wraparound goal, my dad would take me to McDonald’s, and I’d get a ‘Happy Meal.’ I’ve been working on one for a while, and it was pretty cool to see it work on the big stage,” joked Lutz. “As I said, ever since I was probably five, I’ve been practicing wraparound goals. It paid off tonight, so it was pretty cool.”

In the third period, the Mavericks added three goals to seal their first-ever trip to the Championship game on Saturday against the Denver Pioneers.

“Benny (Meyers) had a great chance 30 seconds into the third period, point-blank they stopped him,” said Minnesota’s Motzko. “Then they score a minute and a half into the third. That was it. It was over.”

Ondrej Pavel redirected a Jack McNeely slap shot from the blue line past Close at 1:57 for his 12th. Pavel got his stick blade on the low McNeely shot to lift it over the shoulder of Close just inside the post.

David Silye made it 4-1 Minnesota St. when he toe-dragged on Gophers defenseman Jack LaCombe at the right face-off dot and sniped a shot far-side top-corner over Close for his eighth goal. Junior forward Sam Morton kept the play alive just inside the Gophers zone before dishing to Silye.

Mavericks junior Brendan Furry topped off the celebration at 18:51 with an unassisted empty-net goal.

“They’re just a grizzled, old veteran team in every position. I was okay at the end of the first period. I’ll just go to that. Their top guys didn’t really hurt us. Their glue guys on the other lines kind of created things for them,” said Motzko of the Mavericks’ depth. “Because you knew no matter what, whoever plays them, you’re going to have to weather some storms. We were doing it at a little spurt in the second period. It was not a fun game for us to chase.”

“Ondrej Pavel and David Silye have been impactful players for us over the last month,” said Hastings. “Ondrej has been probably one of our most impactful forwards whether you’re talking five-on-five, killing penalties. Those guys allow us to play with depth. When you can play with depth, you can spread out your minutes. That keeps both sides of that, your top six, your bottom six, fresh. It allows them to hopefully play the game the right way.”

“They’re good. Everybody saw it tonight,” said Hastings of the match-up with Denver. “I witnessed some of their games during the season. They’re deep, they’re talented, very good goaltending. I think they’re about as thorough a coaching staff as there is in college hockey right now. So to me, it’s going to be a difficult task.”

“We’ll take a kick at the can on Saturday,” added the Mavericks bench boss.

Pioneers Outlast Wolverines in Semifinal OT

Boston, MA – The Denver Pioneers vanquished the nation’s #1 seed Michigan Wolverines in overtime on Carter Savoie‘s rebound strike at 14:53 to send the Pioneers to their first NCAA Championship since winning it all in 2017.

“I think they turned the puck over at the top, near the blue line. I tried passing it down to Bob (Brink) and it hit a skate. He ended up getting it back,” said Savoie of the lead up to his game-winning goal. “Then obviously that pass Bob made was pretty unbelievable. Right through that guy’s legs. Got the first shot. Then got the rebound there.”

“No words to describe it. Best feeling ever,” said the 5’-10″ sophomore from St. Albert, Alberta.

The expected track meet between two of the nation’s top offensive teams never materialized as the Pioneers limited the Wolverines to just 21 shots through almost 75 minutes of action. Magnus Chrona (19 saves) didn’t have a ton of work to do but when he did, the Denver goalie made sure to shut the door on Michigan.

“It was a really good hockey game. I thought both teams checked really well. There wasn’t a lot of ice, it didn’t seem. And it was an entertaining game,” said Denver head coach David Carle. “We’re obviously excited to be on the positive end. Give Michigan credit. I thought they adjusted well throughout the game. Made it harder on us.”

“I give our players a ton of credit for, again, sticking with it, winning another one-goal hockey game,” added the fourth-year coach. “We tied in the third period. It took us a little longer tonight than it did in Loveland, but our guys stuck with it and got the job done and we’re still in Boston through Saturday.”

The Pioneers carried play for the majority of the first period. Denver took advantage of that momentum and earned the 1-0 lead at 11:22 of the period when  Brett Stapley backhanded a rebound past Erik Portillo (30 saves) for his 17th. Stapley gathered a Justin Lee shot attempt and deposited it past an outstretched Portillo to kick off the Frozen Four scoring.

The Wolverines did not get their first shot on goal until the 3:53 mark of the opening period.

“I thought we handled them very well. I loved the team defense,” said Carle of the Pioneers’ pressure. “Everybody, to a man, was up. They were angling, taking away time and space. Making life hard on them. And obviously when mistakes did happen, Magnus was there to shut the door and make a couple really big saves.”

“The first period, they had the third guy back all the time. And we tried to carry the puck through that. They created too many turnovers, especially in the danger zones, the blue line, the top of the circles,” said Michigan coach Mel Pearson. “As the game wore on, we got a little better with our puck possession, started to make some plays, got a little more comfortable. But they played desperately. And with the layers and the blocking of the shots, they took a lot away from us. And we just would dump it back in the corner and reload and grind.”

“They’re just structurally really good defensively. Everybody thought this might be a high-scoring game. But both teams played solid defensively. And the goaltending was great,too. They check. That’s their MO. And everything starts off their defense offensively and they worked hard tonight. They really made it difficult on us,” said Pearson.

The Michigan Wolverines celebrate Jimmy Lambert’s second-period, game-tying goal at 4:03. Michigan would lose 3-2 in overtime to the Denver Pioneers on Thursday, April 7, 2022, at TD Garden in Boston, MA.

The Wolverines found their mojo in the second period as they controlled the play the way Denver did in the first. Michigan tied the game 1-1 at 4:03 when Jimmy Lambert deposited a Nolan Moyle feed from the goal line past Chrona. Moyle made the play happen after taking the puck to the net where Chrona made the stop, but Moyle outhustled Pioneers defenseman Sean Behrens for the puck to set up Lambert’s sixth.

Denver pulled ahead again on a Cameron Wright tip-in on Mike Benning‘s shot from the blue line in the third period. Wright’s 22nd at 5:36 briefly gave the Pioneers a push as Michigan has recently struggled in the third period.

The Denver Pioneers celebrate Cameron Wright’s go-ahead goal at 5:36 of the third period. The celebration was short-lived as Michigan forced overtime before falling 3-2 on Thursday, April 7, 2022, at TD Garden in Boston, MA.

The Wolverines answered at 9:09 when Thomas Bordeleau banged in a rebound of a Michael Pastujov bid in front of the Pioneers’ goal. A blocked shot at the Michigan blue line by Wolverines forward Mark Estapa sent Pastujov off to the races before Bordeleau scooped the rebound into the Denver net for his 12th.

“We only needed one shot. It’s one shot. We were in the game. We hadn’t played our best. As the game wore on, I thought we got better and better versus some games recently that we got worse as the game went on,” said Pearson of Michigan’s third-period play. “But we were right there, one goal. The message was to keep playing, play our game and get everything to the net. There’s no bad shot in overtime. And we had it. I thought the first five minutes there especially, or maybe the first ten, that we were the better team. We couldn’t get pucks through them or to the net or get a bounce or a break.”

The overtime momentum swing was in the Wolverines’ favor through the first half of extra time, when Chrona shined brightest for the Pioneers.

“I thought Magnus was unbelievable in that overtime,” said senior forward Ryan Barrow. “He kind of let us get our feet settled there.”

Carle agreed that his last line of defense was tremendous all night but extra special in overtime.

“Obviously the (Brendan) Brisson save in overtime and the (Luke) Hughes save in overtime were exceptional and kept us in the hockey game,” said Carle. “It allowed Sav (Carter Savoie) to put one in the back of the net for us and send us to the championship game.”

Barrow concurred with his coach adding, “our best players made a play.”

That’s when Savoie and Brink connected to advance the Pioneers into the promised land.

“His game is continuing to develop and improve to where we can put him out in really big moments,” said Carle of Savoie and his play. “The goal-scoring, he’s been doing that for a long time. It’s a God-given ability that he has, and he’s impacted the program 23 times this year with that. So that’s exciting. But his whole game continues to round out as he becomes a more complete player.”

“A lot has been made of the symmetries between this team and the ’03 and ’04 team, being backmhere in Boston. And there’s no doubt about it, when we talk about what we want to do at Denver, it’s about winning championships and getting opportunities to hang banners,” said Carle. “And to have this opportunity is very special. To do it against Michigan, who is at 9 and we’re at 8, is even sweeter. And hopefully we can tie them and close the gap and reach our goal to getting to 10 first.”

Stay tuned. Denver awaits the Minnesota and Minnesota St. winner for a shot at banner number nine on Saturday night.

 

From Car Shares to Sharing the Spotlight

Devon Levi and Yaniv Perets Differing Paths Both Led to Success Montreal goalies will share the stage during the Richter Award ceremony. The question isn’t entirely off the tongue before a wry smile or a smirk forms on the intended’s face. It doesn’t matter if the question is for a teammate or the coach; sometimes,… Continue reading From Car Shares to Sharing the Spotlight

Minnesota Close Out Western Michigan

Gophers Golden in 3-0 Shutout of Broncos, Earn 1st Frozen Four Berth Since 2014 Worcester, MA – March 27 is a big day in the Minnesota Golden Gophers world. On this date, four years ago, Bob Motzko was hired as head coach, and it’s also his birthday. Added to that, it’s the day the Gophers returned to the Frozen Four for the… Continue reading Minnesota Close Out Western Michigan

McKay, Minnesota St. Shutout Notre Dame

Mavericks bounce Irish 1-0 and punch ticket to Frozen Four in Boston. Albany, NY – A 1-0 game against Dryden McKay and the Minnesota St. Mavericks might as well be a 10-goal deficit some nights. Saturday night at MVPArena was one of those nights. Only it didn’t feel that way to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. In the opening period, Notre… Continue reading McKay, Minnesota St. Shutout Notre Dame

Albany Regional Final Preview

Who will be shipping up to Boston?

Albany, NY – The one-seed Minnesota St. Mavericks take on the three-seed Notre Dame Fighting Irish Saturday at 6:30 pm EST at MVPArena. The winner will move onto the Frozen Four at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts, on April 7, 2022.

The two teams haven’t met since 2010-11, and the Irish hold a 6-4 record all-time against Minnesota St. in all their machinations, Minnesota St., MSU-Mankato, or Mankato State. This season, the two had three common opponents: Michigan, Michigan Tech, and Northern Michigan.

The Fighting Irish went 6-1 against the trio, with four wins over a highly touted Michigan Wolverines team. The only loss came to the same Wolverines in the Big Ten Championship game last Saturday, 2-1.

The Mavericks went 8-3 against the Michigan three. Four wins and a loss each to conference foes Tech and NMU. The Mavericks fell to the Wolverines back in October at Minnesota Duluth’s AMSOIL Arena during the Ice Breaker Tournament.

Minnesota St. Mavericks (36-5) vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (28-11-0)

Dryden McKay gets most of the publicity for the Mavericks, and rightfully so. The 6′-0″ senior from Downers Grove, Illinois, has consistently been one of the nation’s top goaltenders all four years in Mankato. But, Notre Dame’s netminder Matthew Galajda, while not as praised or discussed numerically, is not far off from McKay’s total’s, both on the season and over each’s four-year collegiate career. Galajda, a former Hobey Baker candidate at Cornell, missed last season due to the Ivy League’s pandemic-related shutdown.

If the Irish’s previous game against North Dakota is any indication, then Galajda has finally shaken off the rust, and there could be a low-scoring affair in Albany. Galajda, and the Irish, allowed one goal on 24 shots in advancing to the Final on Saturday in a 2-1 overtime win. 

McKay faced more of an offense-first team than Notre Dame in Harvard. The Crimson’s high-powered offense put three past McKay as the Mavericks held on to win 4-3 on Thursday.

Minnesota St. head coach Mike Hastings called the Fighting Irish one of the “heavyweights in college hockey” and praised Notre Dame’s game.

“They defend and they have ability to win at this time of the year. More often than not, you see them at the tournament and they always earn their way here.”

“We understand what Notre Dame is,” added Hastings. “Very well coached, well conditioned team that beat some very high end hockey teams throughout this year, when you beat Michigan four times. When you beat North Dakota in this tournament. You’re a good hockey team, incredibly disciplined. So we’ll have our hands full but we look forward the opportunity.”

Reggie Lutz, a fifth-year senior forward, knows what the road ahead has in store.

“You can tell they (Notre Dame) take a lot of pride just running their D-zone out,” said Lutz. “Watching the game (Thursday) North Dakota, had a few good chances but overall they smothered them in their D-zone keeping (North Dakota) to the outside. So I think our goal is trying to get somebodies to the front of the net and it’s going to take a few greasy ones.”

For their part, Notre Dame will continue to play their game. The Irish spent their Friday in more of a reflective period instead of studying the Mavericks. 

“I think we’re going to get more into that on game day,” said senior captain Jake Pivonka when asked about the preparation for the Mavericks.

“The focus has always been on us,” said Pivonka. “It doesn’t really matter who we’re up against. We’e going to bring the same sort of effort regardless.”

It’s a considerable effort that will be needed for both schools to punch their ticket to the Frozen Four in Boston in two weeks. Thursday saw a penalty shot in each game, a game-winning goal at the buzzer disallowed, an entertaining comeback bid falls short, and an overtime celebration to get both teams to this point. Expect nothing less for Saturday’s Final.

 

 

 

 

 

Minnesota Dethrones Massachusetts in OT

Golden Gophers claw back in 3rd period.  Worcester, MA – Late game heroics saved the Minnesota Golden Gophers season and ended the Massachusetts Minutemen’s. After spotting the Minutemen a two-goal lead in the first period, Minnesota tied the game with 6:43 left in regulation on a slapshot from freshman Matthew Knies. Then would knock-off the defending National Champions 4-3 at… Continue reading Minnesota Dethrones Massachusetts in OT

Broncos Kick Huskies in OT

Western Michigan punches ticket to Worcester Regional Final for the first time. Worcester, MA –Sudden death wasn’t so sudden at the DCU Center on Friday afternoon. The Western Michigan Broncos and Northeastern Huskies skated to a 1-1 tie after 60 minutes of regulation play. The NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Regional game would need extra time and an official review to determine an… Continue reading Broncos Kick Huskies in OT