KALAMAZOO, Mich — The No. 3 University of Denver hockey team secured its second consecutive Penrose Cup as NCHC regular-season champions on Saturday with a 3-1 victory against the No. 5 Western Michigan Broncos at Lawson Arena.
It is the third time that DU has won the Penrose Cup, with the school having also captured the hardware in 2017 and 2022 en route to national titles. Overall, Denver won its 15th conference regular-season championship, as the program won 12 such trophies in the old WCHA.
The victory gives the Pioneers the top seed for the upcoming NCHC Tournament, which culminates with the Frozen Faceoff at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, on March 17-18. DU will host the No. 8-seed Miami RedHawks in the best-of-three quarterfinal series at Magness Arena on March 10-12.
Denver (26-8-0, 17-5-0 NCHC) erased a first-period deficit against Western Michigan (21-12-1, 13-8-1 NCHC) and never relinquished the lead in front of a crowd of 4,419, the highest-attended game at Lawson Arena since 2012.
Sophomore Jack Devine tied the outing at 1-1 with a power-play marker midway through the middle frame, and fellow classman Carter Mazur tallied the game-winner 4:48 into the third period after forcing a turnover in the neutral zone and hitting twine on his ensuing wrist shot at the left circle.
Second-year forward Massimo Rizzo sealed the victory with an empty-net goal with 91 seconds remaining. Rizzo and Mazur both assisted on Devine's game-tying goal—the reigning NCHC Forward of the Week's ninth of the season. Mazur is second in the nation with 22 goals this season, and Rizzo is presently sixth in the country with 45 points (16 goals and 29 assists).
Goaltender Magnus Chrona stopped 30-of-31 shots for his 22nd win of the season and 73rd of this career. He made 11 saves in the first period when Western Michigan had three power-play opportunities, which included a five-minute major man advantage that also included a full two-minute 5-on-3.
Denver killed 5-of-6 penalties and another two-man disadvantage in the second period for 1:09. Ryan Gallant scored the Broncos' only marker of the night on the power play at 18:08 of the first period.
The Pioneers picked up their first sweep at Western Michigan since Feb. 26-27, 2016 and now have four series sweeps on the road this season—all against NCHC foes (Miami, North Dakota, Minnesota Duluth and Western Michigan).
UP NEXT: Denver wraps up the regular season next weekend with a home-and-home set against Colorado College. Friday's game is at 8 p.m. MT at Magness Arena and will be nationally televised on CBS Sports Network, while Saturday's season finale is at 6 p.m. MT at Ed Robson Arena in Colorado Springs.
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