NCAA DI Men’s Hockey Championship Recap

Story posted April 10, 2022 in CommRadio, Sports by Josh Bartosik

For the ninth time in program history and first time since 2017, the Denver Pioneers are NCAA Men’s Hockey Champions. The Pioneers battled the Minnesota State Mavericks at a sold out TD Garden Saturday night and prevailed in a 5-1 route.

The Mavericks opened up the scoring just six minutes into the first period on a power play goal from Sam Morton, his ninth of the season.

It seemed like one goal might be all that Minnesota State needed, given that the first ever Minnesota State player to win the Hobey Baker Award and all-time leader in shutouts, Dryden McKay, was between the pipes.

The one goal deficit seemed virtually impossible for the crimson and gold to overcome, especially after being completely shut down in the second period.

However, the Pioneers found their groove in the third, as Denver opened the final frame with a rebound goal from Ryan Barrow and a booming slapshot from Mike Benning, their eighth and 15th goals respectively.

McKay’s performance was certainly an unexpected eye opener, as this was only the eigth time this season he has given up more than two goals. It seemed like no one could solve his masterful goaltending this season, up until the season and championship were on the line.

Undrafted, McKay now has the opportunity to sign with whatever NHL team he wants in the upcoming offseason.

Minnesota State continued to pile on the shots, but Pioneers netminder and San Jose Sharks prospect Magnus Chrona was up to the task, stopping 27 of 28 shots. Massimo Rizzo would eventually put the nail in the coffin on his eleventh goal of the season, capitalizing on a 2-on-1 opportunity with just over six minutes left in the third period.

Two empty net goals by Brett Stapley and Cameron Wright would put a cap on a five goal third period, sealing the contest until the final horn sounded.

The story of this year’s championship matchup was depth scoring. Denver relied on its depth pieces, getting production from five different players all while the team’s leading point getter and Hobey Baker Finalist, Bobby Brink, was held off the scoresheet.

Brink was one of the heroes in Denver’s semifinal matchup, setting up the overtime winner to Carter Savoie in an upset win over Michigan. He will most likely sign with the Philadelphia Flyers in the coming months.

Minnesota State’s top three scorers, including its own Hobey Baker Finalist in Nathan Smith, all laid goose eggs, falling short on the biggest stage.

In the end, the Mavericks fell just short of their first title in their first ever championship game.

This NCAA championship for the Pioneers ties them with the Michigan Wolverines for the most titles in Division I hockey history at nine.

Josh Bartosik is a first-year student majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email