Magnus Chrona Steals Show from Officials as Denver Completes Sweep of Omaha

Last night, a whopping 16 penalties were called between the #6 Denver Pioneers (14-5-1, 7-3-0 NCHC, 21 pts) and the #15 Omaha Mavericks (14-8-0, 4-5-0-1 NCHC, 11 pts). Tonight though, referees Brian Hankes and Timm Walsh decided 16 wasn’t enough, upping the amount to 20 and 36 total on the weekend. It was a weekend of ugly, disjointed hockey due to a severe lack of five-on-five play but on the scoreboard, where it matters most, Denver came out of the weekend with a sweep of their surprise opponent in the Mavs. Goaltender Magnus Chrona shined in a chippy game two on Sunday night to earn the 4-0 shutout in the Pios’ 14th victory of the season, their 10th at Magness Arena this year.

Ask any coach and they will tell you that without five-on-five play, in games where you’re constantly going back-and-forth between the power play and penalty kill, it is extremely difficult to generate any kind of rhythm or momentum. That’s exactly what fans and players alike had to contend with this weekend. On Saturday night, there were 32 penalty minutes on those 16 penalties, and tonight, an incredible 54 PIM on the 20 infractions. For two teams that have had great success with the man advantage this season, you might have thought would translate to a high-scoring, offense-centric game, but that was not the case. Last night, Omaha had the only power-play goal and on Sunday, Denver had the game’s only three, two of which came on Omaha’s two major penalties.

Despite all the penalties, many of which likely wouldn’t have been called in any other game, both goaltenders, Isaiah Saville for Omaha and Chrona for Denver, found a way to shine. Saville made 33 saves on 37 shots, many of which should be shown on his career highlight reel, and Chrona stopped all 32 of Omaha’s shots sent his way. In many respects, until the Pioneers pulled away with two power-play goals in the latter stages of the third period, including Mazur’s with just 49 seconds left, tonight’s game was a goaltending clinic put on by the two netminders.

Chrona’s play was as good as it has been all season to this point and hopefully is a sign of things to come. The turning point of his game came in the second period with Denver leading by two and Omaha went on a two-minute five-on-three power play due to four minor penalties that were called after a review – a violation of NCHC rules which state that only major penalties can be called as a result of a review and no penalties had been called prior to the review – of a post-whistle scrum, three of which were against Denver. During this two-minute stretch, Omaha peppered Chrona with shots but the Swede stopped every single one of them and looked as calm as ever along the way.

Offensively, though, Denver’s three power-play goals were less a function of a great power-play unit clicking on all cylinders and more to do with the fact that they were handed 10 opportunities – five in the third period alone – by Walsh and Hankes. Carter Savoie got the scoring started with a nice snipe from the right circle in the first period more than three minutes into a major penalty against Joey Abate for boarding. Denver’s other two goals with the man advantage came in the third period, the first from Antti Tuomisto on a wrist shot from the point and the last one from Carter Mazur who tipped a Carter Savoie shot just past Saville and barely crossed the goal line. Denver’s only even-strength goal came from Brett Stapley more than 5 minutes into the second period off of a bad Omaha turnover forced by Savoie behind the Mavs’ net. Savoie led the way with three points on his goal and two assists while Sean Behrens added two assists of his own to lead the Pioneers on the scoresheet. Six other Pios tallied a point in Chrona’s shutout effort.

It’s difficult to take anything much of value away from this game other than it was nice to see Denver on the winning side of a weird game like this. We may never see another game with this many penalties called and for our sake, we should all hope that’s the case. It was an ugly series of hockey with tonight’s 20-penalty debacle punctuating it. Fortunately, Denver was on the winning side of it, but there won’t be much tape worth watching from this series at all. In the end, though, despite Timm Walsh and Brian Hankes doing their best to steal the spotlight from the players and teams, Denver solidified themselves as a top-three team in the country in terms of the Pairwise Rankings and moved into sole possession of second-place in the NCHC, just three points behind first-place North Dakota and three points clear of third-place Western Michigan, with their first matchups of the season against archrival Colorado College looming next weekend.


Top photo of Tuomisto & Chrona courtesy of Denver Athletics

11 thoughts on “Magnus Chrona Steals Show from Officials as Denver Completes Sweep of Omaha”

  1. Due to my pandemic-induced neglect of DU hockey over the past couple seasons, I did not realize that DU has the second Antti in DU hockey history on its roster. Huge shoes to fill with Antti Laaksonen being the first. Love those Finns, recruit more of them!

  2. It’s been a while since Chrona has shut out a team, and that’s a confidence booster for him in what has been an up-and-down season for the big Swedish goalie. Very glad to see him play as well as he did last night, as he shut down a dangerous Omaha power play multiple times with some spectacular saves.

    All in all though, glad to see DU grind through a difficult penalty situation last night with so many penalties called that the game had little flow.

    In a larger sense, this may be something of a milestone marker for DU, as they were able to play through all the difficulties to get a solid 4-0 win.

    Looking forward to playing CC…

    1. There was a span of exactly 4 games between shutouts for Chrona…so he has 2 in the last 6 games. Exactly how many should he have? 3 over games? 4? My lord, man, you have to be such a tool!

  3. One of the ugliest games I’ve ever seen. Nice weekend for the Pios nonetheless! Keep the momentum through this CC series!

  4. Kevin Conley took goon hockey to a new level. What a loser. A guy his age shouldn’t be playing college hockey.

  5. Holy crap. That might have been the ugliest, most disjointed, bizarre DU hockey game I’ve ever seen. By the time the 3rd period rolled around, I just kept staring at the clock and hoping the game would end. So many penalties, stoppages, and reviews. Absolutely no flow last night. There were so many stoppages and instances of everyone standing around, I felt as though I was at an NFL game. I think I counted 4 reviews on possible penalty calls, and they weren’t short reviews. I kept wondering if there is some hidden bad blood between the teams and whether Walsh and Hankes felt the need to “over officiate.” The only interesting twist I am aware of is UNO’s captain, Kevin Conley, used to be a Pioneer. He was certainly in the middle of things last night, but otherwise I don’t know if these teams have any history of ill will.

    Anyway, it took a gritty effort to beat UNO, and I was very happy to see Chrona pitch the shutout. He was positionally sound, had excellent rebound control, and seemed to be on top of his game. Special teams got their work in last night as well. Other than that, it was a game I’d rather forget.

    Can’t wait for Friday’s game against CC.

  6. Kevin Conley does seem to either score or be on the penalty sheet (or both) whenever the Mavs play Denver.

    Perhaps one day when his hockey career is over, he will cherish his 2017 NCAA title ring that he won with Denver as a fourth-line freshman, even though he only played in one DU game after January that season, the third place game at the NCHC tourney.

    After all, I doubt he’s going to win an NCAA title with Omaha…

  7. Did any of you watch the game sober and with both eyes open? There could have easily been more penalties called. It’s sad that none of you all seem to understand hockey, however much you think you do.

Leave a Reply