Game Recaps

Denver Rides Third Period to Capture 9th National Championship

By James Garrison

The Denver University Pioneers (31-9-1) faced off against the Minnesota State Mavericks (38-6-1) in the NCAA National Championship game Saturday night at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. Riding five third period goals, the Pioneers took the contest 5-1. 

The win brought the Pioneers their 9th National Championship in school history and their first title since 2017 at the helm of Jim Montgomery. 

Denver Head Coach David Carle, who was an assistant coach under Montgomery as well as George Gwozdecky  is just the fourth youngest coach to win an NCAA title at 32. 

“I owe a lot of what I have in my life to the university”, said Carle post-game. “This program is very special, it means the world to me.”

The first period opened with a definite feeling-out process. Denver, with a slight edge in terms of possession early on, would struggle to get pucks on Hobey Baker Award winner Dryden McKay. McKay would only face three shots in the opening tally. 

After Pioneers sophomore defenseman Mike Benning went off for tripping, the Mavericks would not miss on their first major chance. 

Mavericks Junior forward Sam Morton wired a one-timer past Pioneers goaltender junior Magnus Chrona after a couple chances in and around the front of the net at 13:59 of the first period. The Mavericks would ride their lead into the locker room, finishing the period up 1-0.

Denver, with only three shots in the first period, would barely double their total in the second, adding just five in the middle frame. 

Their best chance of the night to that point came as Cameron Wright couldn’t finish off a pretty passing play, missing a wide-open net midway through the second period. 

After only eight shots through two periods, Denver was still in the game. Down by one, the Pioneers needed only one bounce to go their way. With just under five minutes gone in the third, Denver got their bounce. 

Pioneers senior forward Ryan Barrow put home the rebound off of the shot from Benning to even the contest up at one apiece at 15:14. 

“I just don’t think we were playing very well, outside of our goaltender,” said Carle about his team’s play in the first 40 minutes. “We weren’t connected and a lot of that was what [Minnesota State] was doing.”

Chrona stopped 27 out of 28 shots, keeping Denver in the game until they would ultimately tie the game. 

“After the first one I felt almost immediately that we’re gonna get a second goal,” Chrona said post-game. After that, it was just pure joy and trying to stay in the moment.”

The Pioneers would quickly continue their momentum, drawing a penalty just 40 seconds later. Denver would not be able to capitalize on the power-play, but take the lead just seven seconds after the play returned to five on five. 

Benning wired home a one-timer from the right circle past McKay to give the Pioneers the lead with 12:27 to go in the third. 

The Pioneers kept it coming, adding an insurance goal with 6:26 remaining, as freshman forward Massimo Rizzo buried a 2 on 1 opportunity to pad the lead for Denver. 

“Once we gave up the first one, I thought we were certainly leaking oil a little bit, and couldn’t stop the bleeding,” said Minnesota State Head Coach Mike Hastings post-game. 

In addition to advancing to their first Frozen Four in school history, Minnesota State also set the record for most wins in Division 1 play.

“These kids came to work every day with a smile on their face and they made the dailies fantastic,” said Hastings. “The ride they took our staff on and our program on was special.”

The Pioneers would add two empty net goals from senior forwards Brett Stapley and Cameron Wright to give Denver the 5-1 final. 

Now with nine national championships, Denver has tied the University of Michigan for the most titles by any school in the NCAA Division 1. 

“It certainly was a goal to get to nine. The ultimate goal is to be the first one to ten,” said Carle. “I will tell you, winning Thursday against Michigan, the team at nine was a huge step in that direction. Obviously tonight was an even bigger step.”

The long wait for college hockey will now begin, with five months until the next season, where the Pioneers will be vying to defend their title. 

“We’re here to stay,” said Carle.


  1. Unrelated to the article. I heard a rumor that the year end banquet had dis-invited lower tier donors, and was only open to player’s families and very high dollar contributors. Surely this must be vicious dis-information that is being circulated to cause a rift. However, I did not receive my usual “Friends of BU Hockey” invitation? Clarification please! PSD

    • Rumor was indeed misinformation. This year’s events necessitated the event being prudently limited to the players and their families. PSD

      • Glad to hear that. Thanks Paul.

      • PSD

        can you elaboration on why – “This year’s events necessitated the event being prudently limited to the players and their families.”

        what events are you referring to? the firing of Albie?

        • Vinnie,
          I submitted a written query to a BU administrator asking if the “Friends of BU Hockey” had been disinvited, or if it was just myself. I paraphrased the administrator’s response, so perhaps some clarity was lost. However, the gist of the response, and the rationale for it, is what I reported as a reply to my own earlier posting. Specifics were not mentioned, but in my opinion logical inferences can be drawn. PSD

  2. From an inside source, Today’s banquet was pretty quiet. Not all players were there. Fensore is the new Captain. All in all, a quiet affair. TK out.

  3. why was it limited TK?

    • Not sure. Heard it was somewhat subdued( probably due to coaching situation, players leaving, current coaches unsure of status with new coach coming)

  4. Glenn Carey Staub

    Perhaps another reason it would be limited is COVID-19? Anyway, congratulations to Dom! He will make an excellent captain!

  5. From what I have gathered through several sources, the banquet was intended to take place as scheduled. The original plan (that was hatched late in the season) was for the banquet to be like pre-pandemic times – players, their families, staff, invited donors.

    No invitations for the banquet were ever sent prior to BU’s announcement that Albie is not returning as head coach. No subsequent communication about the banquet being limited to players/families/staff was ever disseminated following Albie’s departure.

    Thus, there was a general belief that either the banquet was not taking place, or that it was limited to players/families/staff only. It appears the latter was true, but the non-communication from Athletics caused some misunderstanding over whether or not the event was taking place.

    I think most BU hockey supporters would’ve understood proactive communication from Athletics about their decision to limit the scale of the banquet meant donors could not attend this year. But the non-communication since Albie’s departure has led to more speculation than there needs to be.

    • Good post Terry! Yes, transparency is usually the best policy. As an alum and donor and invitee to previous such banquets, it would have been nice to have gotten an email saying what was going on with this annual event. It’s something I have enjoyed immensely and have made a weekend out of (traveling to Boston with the banquest being the main attraction) since 2013. I’m not holding any grudge at all but it’s nice to be in the loop.

  6. classic case of the BU admin being the BU admin

    you know what they say about the definition of insanity.

  7. Hearing that BC is making a run at Nate Leeman. Hopefully, we are too.