Pioneers Sweep Gold Pan Season Series to Win Second Penrose Cup

Trophies are hard to win in hockey. Whether it’s a rivalry trophy or a championship trophy, they’re extremely difficult to win. The #3 Denver Pioneers (25-8-1, 18-6-0-1-0-0 NCHC, 53 pts), however, have made it look easy this year. After retaining the Gold Pan with a sweep of the in-state rival Colorado College Tigers (9-23-3, 6-17-1-2-1-0 NCHC, 18 pts) back in January, they made it a season sweep with a 5-2 victory a clinched the Penrose Cup thanks to Omaha’s regulation victory over North Dakota earlier in the evening. Like last night in Colorado Springs and the prior three games between DU and CC, the result was never really in doubt but this one, this victory in front of 6,321 people and a sold-out Magness Arena, meant just a bit more.

“I’m super happy for this team,” senior alternate captain Brett Stapley said. “We weren’t quite sure what was going to happen with how the points were going to line up and who was going to be ahead but I think someone said after the second period in the locker room that North Dakota lost. [Winning the Penrose Cup] is just a testament to how hard we worked this year and the emphasis we put on all the details of playing Denver Hockey. I just couldn’t be more happy for us.”

Prior to the game, DU head coach David Carle made the decision to start backup goaltender Matt Davis over Magnus Chrona who had shut out the Tigers in each of his last four games against CC dating back to last season. Though DU’s Gold Pan shutout streak ended in the third period, it was a brilliant choice as Davis was perfect through two periods and it took a perfect shot from Marc Pasemko off of a bad DU turnover in its own zone to finally break the four-plus game Gold Pan shutout streak. Davis finished the night stopping 23 of 25 Tiger shots and even added a penalty-shot save in the first period for good measure.

“Matty earned it,” Carle said of his decision to start Davis. “He earned it with his play at Western and at Omaha and we felt like it was an opportunity for Magnus to get a real good goalie skate in today, work on some parts of his game, get a full week of practice here and get ready for a playoff run. So, we thought the timing was good.”

As solid as Davis was between the pipes, this was yet another game where DU had their scoring depth and relentless offense shine. Four different Pioneers scored – Carter Savoie was the lone Pioneer with a multi-goal effort – Bobby Brink added another two assists to bring his NCAA-best points total to 53, and three seniors found twine during DU’s Senior Night.

The Pioneers outshot the Tigers 35-25 on the night, including a third-period where CC took advantage of four DU penalties, one of which was a major, to outshoot the Pios 18-6. In every sense, it was, once again, pure domination from the Pioneers. Even when CC showed some life for the first time all season in the third period, senior captain Cole Guttman was there to stamp it out with a shorthanded breakaway goal.

It was as perfect a night as DU could have scripted. Winning the Penrose Cup in front of the first sellout since before the pandemic on Senior Night against Colorado College. To borrow from SNL’s Stefon, this game had everything. And it all ended with the Pioneers hoisting the second of what DU hopes will be its four trophies this season.

“That was a lot of fun,” senior captain Cole Guttman said. “I’m just so proud of this group. That’s a hard trophy to win so I’m proud of how we rallied together throughout the season and we really earned that one.”

The emotional high after winning a regular-season championship is real. Winning this conference’s championship, even a shared one with an archrival means just that much more. But the season is not over. In fact, in a lot of ways, for the Pioneers who have lofty aspirations over the next month, the season is just beginning. This is the part of the year that Denver has been preparing all season for. This is the month when greatness happens and legends are born. Yes, Denver will proudly display this Penrose Cup at Magness Arena for all to see but the real work is just now beginning. Denver may be the #1 seed entering next weekend’s NCHC Quarterfinals against Miami (of Ohio) but every team is 0-0 again and everyone is now dreaming of championships.

“It’s hard to win those two trophies (the Penrose and Gold Pan,” Guttman added. “But we’re just taking it day by day and at this point, you just have to flip the switch in playoff hockey. It doesn’t matter who you play but you have to prepare the same way and I think preparation throughout the week is going to be huge.”

Indeed the Pioneers are ecstatic for this trophy, as they should be, but the next two are the ones that really count. The next two are the ones that separate great teams from champions.


Top photo courtesy of DU Hockey Instagram

10 thoughts on “Pioneers Sweep Gold Pan Season Series to Win Second Penrose Cup”

  1. I’d be a liar if I said I expected this. Well done, Pios. If we go no further, I’ll have no complaints. Excellent season and we’ll be even better next year.

  2. Way to go Pios! Mission accomplished. Looking forward to even more in the Frozen Faceoff…and beyond.

  3. Chrona gets a shutout and a little rest for the playoff run. Davis gets some more work and maybe he has the trust of the coaches now. PK looked better. Nice finish to the regular season.

  4. Bravo, Pios.

    This was the most dominant Gold Pan series performance in more than 70 years of DU Hockey – scoring 18 goals and allowing only two against your arch-rival. That is incredible, and we may never see such dominance again in our lifetimes.

    Remember, this is a very young DU team (tied for second youngest in the nation) that was not expected to be a Penrose Cup winner this season, shared or not.

    In a bigger sense, Carle has already dramatically overachieved with this DU team. It’s one thing to lead DU to a Frozen Four with Monty’s recruits, as Carle did in 2019. But not enough people are talking about what I believe is the most masterful coaching job in all of college hockey this year — Carle took a huge gamble of waving goodbye to about 8-9 very experienced Pios who were all eligible for more time in a Pioneer uniform. Instead, Carle rolled the dice on his incoming youth, and has been rewarded with the highest scoring offense in the entire nation, playing in the toughest conference in the country. It’s quite honestly AMAZING. The NCHC is typically dominated by older, experienced teams, but this year, DU is as good as anyone with a young roster. That’s great coaching, recruiting and development – and anyone who was’t sure if Carle was the right choice to lead this program certainly should be swayed by now that Carle is the real deal.

    Certainly, Carle knew that Brink and Stapley were due for major bounce-back seasons, and that Savoie and Benning would be stars. But newcomers like Wright, Mazur, Rizzo, Behrens, Davis, Buium, and Devine have filled the spots of the departed players and have not only replaced the points lost, but have made the other Pios even better and built a new culture of excellence this year.

    I am not one to throw around compliments easily, but the job David Carle has done to guide his players, his systems and his culture to a Penrose Cup this season is one of the greatest coaching jobs I’ve seen in Denver in more than 40 years of following DU hockey.

  5. 4-0 against CC this year. 19 GFs, 2 GAs. In those four wins, DU outshot CC by a nearly 2-1 margin, and DU has now beaten CC 7 straight times. Wow. I’m sure CC will be improved in the years to come, but I’m going to savor this current dominance by DU for sure!!

    The 3rd period last night was a bit disjointed and choppy for DU. Pios took some penalties and finally gave CC some opportunities to generate some offense, which they did. Otherwise, the rest of the game was largely a microcosm of how the contests between the two teams have gone this year–DU dominated the play, had CC chasing most of the time, DU generated the majority of the scoring chances, and DU never allowed the Tigers to build any kind of momentum. Pios outshot CC 29-7 through the first two periods last night, and I think I only counted 2 or 3 decent scoring chances for CC in those first two periods. It was a clinic.

    Really happy for the seniors to go out like that. And it was great to see Davis between the pipes, earning the W.

    DU has accomplished a lot of great things this year and has given us fans a lot of thrills. Now it’s time to take the next step. I’m very excited to see what this Pioneer team has in store in the next month.

  6. Never argue wid da Swami, specially when he makes good points,but:
    A little luck helped – easier schedule in the NACHO – not having Dakota visit Magness. It truly would have sucked for them if perhaps they had come here, swept DU and lost the outright Penrose like this. We will take it!
    Playing the good teams when Juniors/Olympics took the top performers out when they plaid DU.
    Looking at the departed players, Hank Crone was the most points lost and Olischefski the best faceoffer lost. Mendel has been strong for the Qpies too. We still hafta root for all dem departed Pios except when they play the current ones.
    Really wanted the season shutout, but 0well.
    Da Swami is right, HELLUVA job by Carle, but the ol’ pessimist is a little too rosy-tinted this time. We look forward to watching how this all turns out, starting in Loveland and into who comes back next year.
    If Carle can take this team past Brad Berry and his UNDies, there may be another Penrose out there for him specifically.
    Finally a question before i sober up and go back to the Koolaid: How was the cup in Denver last night? Didn’t Dakota get a change to hug, kiss, and skate it?

  7. Swami is absolutely right in his assessment of Carle’s performance.

    I’ve been following DU hockey over 50 years and this is the right up there with the best recruiting/coaching/melding/balancing of talent I’ve ever seen at DU. I’d put this season on a par with DU’s all time greatest coach Murray Armstrong’s performances back in the glory days of the 1960’s and Gwoz’s 2004-2005 team championships.

    The difference with this team is that few expected them to win. The preseason poll pundits (save one lonely voter) said they were too new, too young, too short, too light, too inexperienced, etc., etc.

    The road from here on will not be an easy one. There are many talented, older, more experienced teams vying for the ultimate prize. But, with continued outstanding coaching, boyish enthusiasm, scrappy play, and some goaltending luck thrown in, DU has an excellent chance to advance from Loveland to Boston and, maybe, just maybe, all the way to the pinnacle of college hockey.

  8. I concede that DU got a little lucky with the scheduling gods this year, which is a good point.

    Perhaps the scheduling help was karma for getting slapped with worst scheduling luck last year, having to play UND SEVEN times (including on UND’s home ice for the league’s final four which should have been held at a neutral site). Also, not getting to play CC for the final two regular season games for Covid reasons hurt , which could have helped DU’s case for an NCAA berth with two more likely wins over the Tigers.

    I will also concede that this year’s inconsistent goaltending and poor PK numbers are still well below DU normal standards, and while I don’t mind the increased sandpaper in DU’s game this year, I am not a big fan of DU posting the second most penalty minutes in the conference behind Omaha. All of those areas will need to improve if DU wants to be on stage in April…

  9. Where is the Brink for Hobey campaign? Hopefully DU will get the word out. To go from no Hobey winners, to possibly three in the last 17 years would be impressive. Brink has to keep on producing, though. I hope the Miami matchup gives him a chance to shine.

  10. Brink has exploded this year to be the nation’s top scorer in the toughest conference. If his line were playing in any other conference, he’d be a 60-65 point scorer instead of 53 points. Unfortunately, 39 of his points are assists and 14 are goals, which makes him a less flashy scorer than some others.

    The fact that Brink was not selected for the Olympics could be a perceptual disadvantage, where guys like Matt Berniers, Devon Levi and Nathan Smith WERE selected for Olympic teams. Sanderson of UND is also a great player, but he’s missed a big chunk of season between the Olympics and his injuries. I think Brink is in the mix, but it’s not as clear cut as it was for Carle and Butcher, who were dominant college players when they won…

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