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Denver offense explodes in third, Pioneers down Minnesota State for record-tying ninth NCAA crown


Down 1-0 after 40 minutes in last Saturday’s NCAA national title game, the University of Denver came alive in the third, scoring five unanswered goals at Boston’s TD Garden to down Minnesota State University 5-1 and take home college hockey’s top prize for the 2021-22 season.

The title is the Pioneers’ ninth all time, tying them with the University of Michigan, the team DU eliminated in the semifinals Thursday night.

“Words don’t describe the feelings,” said Denver head coach David Carle. “I’m so proud of our team and what they were able to accomplish this year. It means the world to our staff and our players to be a part of this journey with these guys.

“It was just so much fun.”

Denver goalie Magnus Chrona made 27 saves and kept the Pioneers within striking distance.

“They were outplaying us but at the end of the day, they were only up 1-0,” said DU fifth-year senior forward Ryan Barrow. “One shot changes the entire outlook on the game.”

Barrow tied the game and then Mike Benning one-timed a shot from the left faceoff dot that proved to be the game-winning tally. Benning was subsequently named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.

“I’m just kind of overwhelmed with everything,” Benning said. “I saw a shot and took it. Went with my gut, and now we’re here, so I’m happy.”

Massimo Rizzo made it 3-1 and then empty-net goals from Brett Stapley and Cameron Wright sealed it for the Pioneers.

The five goals were the most scored in a third period of a championship game since Colorado College scored seven on Michigan in 1957.

“We had good opportunities,” said Minnesota State head coach Mike Hastings. “We couldn’t extend the lead. We scored a power-play goal. They get one. Their guys made a few more saves than we wanted him to. When they got the second one, I thought we started to chase it instead of settling down a little bit and understanding there was still time on the clock, that we could go and make a difference.”

For the Mavericks, goalie Dryden McKay made 15 saves just one night after winning the Hobey Baker Award as college hockey’s top player.

Photo/Jim Rosvold/

— Matt Mackinder

(April 14, 2022)

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