Pioneers’ PK Falters as Comeback Effort Falls Just Short Against Broncos

The #3 Denver Pioneers (22-7-1, 15-5-0-1 NCHC, 44 pts) fell to the #6 Western Michigan Broncos (20-8-1, 12-7-1-1-0-1 NCHC, 37 pts) 6-4 in Kalamazoo on Saturday night to clinch the road split. DU’s penalty-killing effort fell flat, giving up three goals on eight chances, all in the first and second periods, en route to spotting the Broncos a 5-1 lead. Magnus Chrona gave up all five goals on just 20 shots before being replaced by Matt Davis, who did not allow a goal on 13 WMU shots. Almost immediately, though, the Pioneers responded, scoring two quick goals before the second period ended and an early one in the third to pull back to within one at 5-4. Unfortunately, the tying goal just would not find twine behind WMU goaltender Brandon Bussi and the Broncos added an empty-netter for good measure with just over a minute left to seal it.

Some questionable officiating throughout the game on some ticky tacky calls and some obvious missed calls by both Dan Dreger and Brian Hankes certainly did not help DU’s effort tonight, especially in terms of trying to keep the PK off the ice but in the end, as they say, puck don’t lie.

The Pioneers had not won a game in Kalamazoo since January 2017 so just earning a split at Lawson, regardless of how game two went, is a positive feat for this team in itself. Though the two aspects that have ailed the Pios at times this year, inconsistent defense and goaltending and bad penalty-killing, prevented the Pioneers from earning a huge road sweep and continuing to control their own destiny in the race for the Penrose Cup. As of the publication of this article, North Dakota has a 3-1 lead over Minnesota Duluth going into the third period and, should they hold on, they will take a one-point lead over Denver in the NCHC standings with two weeks and four games left.

11 thoughts on “Pioneers’ PK Falters as Comeback Effort Falls Just Short Against Broncos”

  1. Chrona is our weak link. When we need our goalie to come on strong and keep the team in the game he doesn’t.

  2. Our persistent weaknesses were glaringly obvious tonight. No indication they will disappear any time soon. It’s really a shame IMO. So much faith was put in Chrona this season and he just hasn’t been consistently up to the task.
    NoDak now controls the road to the Cup. Per usual, they’re getting stronger as the season winds down
    Now on to Omaha…A tenacious group that just outscored and outplayed what used to be a good St. Cloud team that continues to be on the decline.

  3. Dunker would have taken a guaranteed split before the weekend began. I predict Sioux loses at least one next week, so we can still be in first place by this time next week.

  4. It’s frustrating. We never know which Chrona is going to show up. Maybe Matt Davis should be given an opportunity to start next weekend against Omaha.

  5. Learned the truth about Duluth they had 14 players with flu on Saterday night that’s why goalie left the game then we choked in third period as we did this saterday

  6. On the surface, a split on the road against a tough and determined WMU team, a team that sits in 3rd place in the NCHC, isn’t a bad weekend. Unfortunately, as good as this DU team has been for large stretches this season, there are weaknesses as we all know, and those manifested themselves this weekend. The special teams are inconsistent at best, and at worst, can lose this team games. And Chrona can be Jekyll and Hyde. Only 4 games left in the regular season–let’s hope these things get remedied quickly.

  7. It may be too late to remedy DU’s weaknesses. The salvation will have to be to keep the pressure on and hope to pour in more goals than the opponents do. It’s been working, except in those games where the opponent’s goalie has stood on his head! Good luck Pios in the last four regular season games. The alums are behind you all the way!!!

  8. I think the PK is still somewhat fixable. The talent and desire are there. DU may not have the best goaltending or the most size down low, but I do think DU has been most effective when they are able to proactively use their speed up top to disrupt the opponent rather than sagging back too much and letting the opponent dictate their power play flow. Make the opponent uncomfortable…

  9. I agree with Swami on the PK issues. Collapsing back towards the net seems to have cost them the most goals. With DU’s speed and quickness, this more aggressive play coupled with superior stick work has really helped disrupt the opponents ability to set up for close in one-timers. Avoiding scrums in front of the net can also give Chrona a clearer view of the puck with the players more spread out.

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