Pioneers Tighten Grip on Penrose Cup in Penalty-Filled Road Win Over Western Michigan

The #3 Denver Pioneers (25-8-0, 16-5-0 NCHC) scored twice on a major power play and three times with the man-advantage in total and cruised to a 5-2 victory over the #5 Western Michigan Broncos at Lawson Arena. Thanks to the clutch road victory in a hostile atmosphere, the Pios are now just one win away from clinching their second-straight Penrose Cup.

The Pioneers were the better team – they outshot the Broncos 34-19 – and deservingly won the game but unfortunately, for the third weekend in a row, the NCHC’s officiating crew overshadowed the on-ice results with numerous, inconsistent calls and ultimately lost control of the game. The referee tandem of Mike Sheehan and Brian Hankes called 15 total penalties. Their pièce de résistance – a five-minute major issued to Jason Polin after Sean Behrens tripped head-first into his shoulder, something that probably shouldn’t have even been a minor penalty – allowed the Pioneers to triple their lead and eliminate any realistic chance at a Broncos comeback.

It was yet another embarrassing display of officiating for a conference plagued by them throughout the season, especially in the second half. The worst part, though? This one happened in a top-five matchup on national television.

While the officials did their best to ruin what could have been an instant-classic hockey game, the Pioneers rebounded from last weekend’s crushing loss to UMD and moved to within two points of clinching their second-straight Penrose Cup. If they can earn at least an overtime or shootout win tomorrow, they will fly home to Denver with their third trophy of the season.

9 thoughts on “Pioneers Tighten Grip on Penrose Cup in Penalty-Filled Road Win Over Western Michigan”

  1. Great win in spite of all the penalties. Glad DU dominated the 5 on 5 game or this would have been a very hollow victory.
    That being said, the NCHC officiating has been horrendous this season. Sheehan and Hankes should both go back to a referee school (kindergarten) and re-start their careers with Bantam ‘A’ level games (the first year checking is allowed by USA hockey).
    It also might help if Sheehan lost some 50lbs so maybe he could get himself in position to make the correct calls.
    Why can’t the conference find some decent refs? Does the same problem exist throughout college hockey? If so, it’s time to start a viable college/junior referee development program.

  2. How much do they pay these guys to ref? Maybe not enough to keep the good ones interested. The old saying: “you get what you pay for”

  3. 2 of the better teams in the country and we get a gong show. It’s sad that the take away from this game is the reffing. Absolutely no game management skills or consistency from the stripes.Players and coaches can adapt if there is some sort of standard set. WMU got hosed on that Behrens hit,wtf were they looking at? Referee…. Referee…take your head out of your ass so you can CC SUCKS!

  4. I know there is a drumbeat about bad refs, and the major on WMU was bad. Besides that, which penalties that they called were wrong? Maybe just one? How bout Benning??? That goal, that awesome assist, wow, he’s on fire. And Mazur’s DU fans at the game were hilarious! Saw a couple of our home boys on TV, too!

  5. Big big win on the road against a good WMU team. That was great to see. Pios were the better team. The PP was clicking, the PK did its job, only giving up one on 6 WMU PPs, and Chrona, while not overly tested, was much better than he was last Saturday against Duluth. Benning had a terrific game, and I’m really glad to see Devine continue to produce offensively. He quietly has 25 points this year.

    Not much else to say about the officiating that hasn’t already been said. The NCHC needs to get this cleaned up. It’s embarrassing for the conference, especially in a marquee matchup such as this one. The players, coaches, and fans deserve better.

  6. Would love to hear the calls from last night that people think should not have been made. Except the obvious major on WMU. That was enough to change the game. But not into general statements that everyone parrots until something becomes a narrative. How bout some examples?

  7. Too many examples of bad/inconsistant officiating this season too list them all. It’s not only the sketchy calls, it’s also the non-calls. If the game is going to be called tight, then be consistant and call everything. I prefer that the refs let em play and only call the obvious penalties so the games can have some flow.

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