Pioneers Clinch Second-Straight Penrose Cup With Weekend Sweep of Western Michigan

The #3 Denver Pioneers (26-8-0, 17-5-0 NCHC) are the 2022-23 Penrose Cup champions and, thanks to a weekend sweep of the  #5 Western Michigan Broncos (21-12-1, 13-8-1 NCHC) at Lawson Arena in Kalamazoo, MI, they will fly home with their second-straight regular season crown. A night ago, they were the beneficiaries of a third-period major penalty and scored twice on it to win 5-2 and tonight, despite committing six penalties including a major, they won 3-1.

After Friday night’s officiating debacle, game two was always going to feature plenty of DU penalties, especially early on. Jack Devine was issued a major for contact to the head and Brett Edwards was quickly whistled for interference, putting the Pioneers at a two-man disadvantage in the opening period. But Denver looked at their poor penalty-killing percentage and laughed as they killed off both. Western did end up opening the scoring with a PPG late in the first but the Pios’ PK was perfect on their final three looks in the last two periods.

Devine, who was not issued a game misconduct with his first-period major penalty, kept his scoring hot streak going, tying the game on a power play of DU’s own midway through the middle period. The goal was Devine’s 10th point in his last four games, dating back to last weekend’s seven-point outburst against UMD. Unlike last night, though, the goal didn’t spur on a barrage for the Pios – instead, WMU goaltender Cameron Rowe kept the Pioneers at bay and maintained the tie game.

Magnus Chrona, for his part, matched Rowe save for save and thanked his posts multiple times throughout the game, including one instance in the second when it looked like the Broncos had scored on their second five-on-three of the game. Instead, after review, it was determined that the puck had stayed out of the net (the announcers said a few times that the puck hit the post) by the time the net was dislodged. No goal:

It was a close call in a game full of them but, since the WMU broadcast never offered multiple angles of any replays (including an overhead look of that specific play), fans will never know exactly where the puck was and are left to ‘trust’ Brian Hankes and Mike Sheehan.

Carter Mazur, relishing his return to his home state and playing in front of a huge contingent of his family and friends, scored the game-winner in the third period with yet another elite, high hockey IQ play in a season full of them. As the Broncos tried to clear the zone, he read the pass, intercepted it in the neutral zone, and beat Rowe with a wrister in transition. It was his second point of the night and the fourth of his homecoming weekend. Massimo Rizzo iced the game with a 150-foot empty-netter and ended any hopes of a Broncos comeback and ensured the Pioneers would fly home with their third trophy of the season.

The Pioneers will return home from Kalamazoo with their second-straight Penrose Cup (third overall – 2017) in tow. This one, though, is all the sweeter as they don’t have to share it with another team like they did last year with North Dakota. This one is all theirs and after they earn two more wins over Colorado College in the remaining Gold Pan games next weekend, their attention can begin to turn to the postseason where the trophies actually do begin to matter.

Three down, two to go.


4 thoughts on “Pioneers Clinch Second-Straight Penrose Cup With Weekend Sweep of Western Michigan”

  1. What a huge sweep. I’m so impressed by this team. It took a lot of toughness to win tonight. You knew the calls were going to go against Denver, and they did. But we survived two 5 on 3’s with minimal damage. Devine shuts up the jeering against No. 4 by scoring a goal, and Mazur was lights out in front of his own home crowd. Chrona stands tall in the net once again.

    Make no mistake, the Penrose Cup DOES matter greatly. We’re all about the national championships at DU. But winning the Penrose is a testament to a team’s consistency over the course of the season. The Penrose only comes second to a national championship. What a great accomplishment, congrats Pioneers, enjoy it!!!!!

  2. This was an epic sweep and a fully-deserved regular season title for the Pios. Yes, there was bad officiating, but Denver rose above it, as great teams have to do. Hat’s off to the Pios coaching staff for having DU ready to play, and for the players to execute the game plans.

    Thus, Denver went into hostile Kalamazoo against a pumped-up top 5 WMU team with a powerhouse four goals per game offense — a confident Broncos team that had lost only once since Christmas.

    The Pios experienced, playoff-tested defense locked the Broncos down, and kept the Lawson Lunatics from lifting the home team, holding WMU to only three goals all weekend. It was the the kind of responsible road/playoff style of hockey that DU will need to be successful in the postseason. The Denver PK was excellent, too.

    DU also scored eight goals on the weekend on the road against a top 5 opponent. These were often big, skilled, timely, playoff-pressure goals at the big moments in the games. We’re all watching Jack Devine finally becoming the point producer we’d expected him to be, and Carter Mazur was the dynamic leader in front of friends and family in his home state. Rizzo and Benning also came through, too, and against this caliber of opponent, your best players need to be just that.

    Finally, Magnus Chrona was the rock that DU needs him to be at this time of year.

    These Pioneers have already won all three trophies they have played for this season, and put themselves in a top #4 PWR position. Skilled, experienced and hungry, they are a team no one wants to play right now.


  3. What an incredible sweep! This barn has been a tough place to play, especially for DU. Hats off to the team and the coaches. Congratulations to the players and everyone involved who made this happen…again! It’s really great to see so many players contributing. DC has this squad playoff ready. 3 down, 2 to go! Go Pioneers!!

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