Denver Pioneers Blow-Out St. Cloud St. Huskies in Series Opener, 6-3

Denver star defenseman Ian Mitchell scored one of the most memorable goals of his Pioneer career on a short-handed, unassisted breakaway — a decisive game-winning goal at 7:16 the third period, as the Denver Pioneers blew open a tight game in third period and cruised to 6-3 NCHC win over St. Cloud State University to delight the nearly 6,000 fans at Magness Arena in Denver.

Sophomore transfer Hank Crone added his best performance as Pioneer with two goal performance of his own (after being benched last weekend), to help the Pioneer cause.

The #5 Pioneers (14-4-3, 3-3-2-1), now winners of five straight games, moved up to #4 in pairwise rankings. DU used relentless offensive puck control to dominate SCSU (6-9-4, 3-6-0-0) for most of the evening. The Pioneers unloaded a season-high 48 shots on SCSU goalie David Hrenak, almost twice the margin of the 26 shots that the Huskies could manage on DU goalie Magnus Chrona. Hrenak had not seen that many shots since 2017.

“Our effort overall was really good tonight,” Denver Head Coach David Carle said. “There weren’t a lot of dips in our game. I thought our puck pressure was there all night long and we put some in the back of the net. Overall, it was a really good night executing with and without the puck.”

Despite the massive advantage in offensive opportunities for DU, the Pioneers were still clinging to a 3-2 third period lead, as the Huskies had scored twice on both of their two earlier power plays, exploiting two blown backdoor DU coverages.  Faced with a third power play opportunity, SCSU looked to tie the game up, but Ian Mitchell was not having it, as he would provide his own special teams magic.  The Calahoo, Alberta native picked up a loose puck in the Pioneer zone, beat a pair of Huskies as he sprinted into the SCSU zone, and roared in down the left side, all alone on Hrenak with Mitchell’s eyes bulging open in anticipation.  The DU captain then skated towards the crease, dipped his shoulder and beat Hrenak for the five-hole dagger breakaway goal, giving the Pioneers the 4-2 lead they would never relinquish. The goal sent a full DU student section into delirium along with the rest of Magness Arena, as Mitchell jumped into the glass at the student end to celebrate.

Here is the Mitchell game-winner:

“It was like [Mitchell] was shot out of a cannon,” said Carle of his captain’s game- winner. “He got faster once the puck got on his stick…[He] sealed the win for us.”

Crone, who came to DU from Boston University, would score the insurance goal on a 5-on-3 power-play seven minutes later, and Brett Stapley added an empty netter in the final minute to put the Pios comfortably up, 6-2. The Huskies did score a garbage-time goal to make the final 6-3 with two seconds remaining, but it was too little too late.

The Pioneers also had earlier game scoring from Crone, Kohen Olifschefski and Ryan Barrow, building a 3-2 lead heading into the third period, and Mitchell had a pair of assists to go alongside his game-winning goal.

Jack Poehling, Easton Brodzinski and Chase Brand had the three Husky markers in defeat.

The two teams meet again in the series finale on Saturday night, Jan. 11th at 7:00 PM.

3 thoughts on “Denver Pioneers Blow-Out St. Cloud St. Huskies in Series Opener, 6-3”

  1. Strong showing last night for DU. That was fun. In the second and third periods, especially, the Pios skated circles around the Huskies, dominating puck possession, keeping the pressure on, generating chances, and wearing down those guys. Pios used their speed very well, certainly in transition, and had the Huskies chasing quite a bit. That said, it was only a 1-goal contest heading into the 3rd, definitely too close for comfort. The Huskies hung around in those first two periods, not generating a huge number of chances, but they did have some quality looks.

    The only downside was DU struggled on the PK in that second period. Seems like the coverage could have been tighter. SCSU had a couple guys with too much space right on the doorstep for easy tap-in goals.

    Ian Mitchell was Ian Mitchell–he’s a hell of player and can take over a game. I think Griffin Mendel has taken a big step forward this year, especially recently. He’s a big kid, but is starting to assert himself more physically, which DU needs, and he can skate. I like what I’m seeing from him. Finlay and Pettersen were very effective last night, using their speed and puck handling to create space and chances and pressure the Huskies. Glad to see Crone bury a couple, one coming one a really nice pass from Brett Edwards. I like what Edwards brings to the table–physical player, good skater, and he has a hard heavy shot. I wish Jack Doremus got on the score sheet last night. He and his line mates worked hard and some really good shifts.

    Let’s get another W tonight. Go Pios!!!!

  2. Great game for DU. The puck possession was so good for stretches of the game, that it reminded me of Terry/Borgstrom/Gambrell. Crone displayed some nice skills. I thought announcers mentioned he was a scratch last wknd. Wonder why…coach’s doghouse? But between him, Petterson, Finlay, and Brink, there is some flashy skill on this team that, if harnessed, can create possession nightmares for the opposition. Mitchell’s goal was perfection. All in all, DU has gone from looking downright awful to a frozen four contender in short time. Gotta keep outworking the opposition, and, for God’s sake, stop giving up goals with 2 seconds left in a period.

    Also, impressed by DU attendance this year. It’s not like we’re #1 in the country or anything, but consistently drawing plus/minus 6000 crowds. I like to see that.

  3. You are watching a Frozen Four calibre team starting to come together for the stretch run.

    I think this might be the moment that Ian Mitchell became the legitimate Hobey Baker candidate/dominant college player we all expected him to be this season. Don’t get me wrong – he’s been excellent all this year, but last night he simply took over the game when it needed to be taken over, and that’s what great players do.

    Crone was a healthy scratch last Saturday night, so he definitely came to play last night. This is a hard lineup to crack, and he was good at both ends of the ice last night.

    DU seemed to fix the backdoor on the PK, but that was something SCSU must have seen on tape that they could exploit.

    We’re going to need a bit more from Chrona as the season gets tighter. Would like to see him let in no more than 2 goals against per game.

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