BOSTON — A year before Ryan Barrow got to Denver, the Pioneers won their eighth National Championship.

He remembers watching a video compilation of the game, complete with highlights and celebrations from the winning players.

It’s been five years since he embarked on his Denver hockey career, and that video has stayed in his mind, inspiring him and his teammates to DU's ninth championship in a win Saturday over Minnesota State.

“You come here hearing all the alumni stories about winning a National Championship and you picture winning one yourself,” he said. “I can’t remember how many times I watched the 2017 pump up video of them winning the Natty. It will be crazy to watch my own, now.”

Helmets, gloves and sticks littered the ice. Spotlights flooded TD Garden, and the Denver Pioneers skated to a corner of the rink.

APTOPIX NCAA Denver Minnesota St Hockey

Denver's Cole Guttman holds up the trophy after Denver defeated Minnesota State in the NCAA men's Frozen Four championship college hockey game Saturday, April 9, 2022, in Boston.

It was their moment, and for a few seconds the team took it all in, celebrating together.

Before the handshake line, before the trophy ceremony and the press conferences, the Pioneers felt the fantastic weight of their accomplishment. Number nine.

After trailing for 44 minutes and 46 seconds, the Pioneers scored five unanswered goals to defeat Minnesota State 5-1 on Saturday in Boston for that coveted ninth NCAA Championship.

NCAA Denver Minnesota St Hockey

Denver's Cameron Wright, right, and Minnesota State's Connor Gregga (20) compete for the puck during the second period of the NCAA men's Frozen Four championship college hockey game Saturday, April 9, 2022, in Boston.

That mark ties Michigan for the most in college hockey history.

“I can’t put it into words,” Barrow said. “I’m just so proud of this group. We had something special.”

For the first two periods, that special feeling seemed like it would elude DU.

The Mavericks seemed to do all the extra things. They skated to loose pucks and finished hits. It gave the team a 1-0 lead after two frames. Then, DU scored. And the momentum changed in an instant.

It was Barrow that broke through from the Pioneers, tying the game after a long scoreless stretch. Moments later Mike Benning added another. Then it was Massimo Rizzo’s turn.

As the seconds ticked by, Minnesota State’s panic seemed to get more out of control.

Coach Mike Hastings described it as an open wound that eventually lost too much blood to continue on. Then, mixing metaphors, he likened DU to a shark.

“We got into a spot that we hadn’t been in in a while and I don’t think we managed it well,” he said. “I thought they smelled blood in the water and they got incredibly aggressive. They were rewarded for that.”

The Pioneers found the poise that has aided them throughout the tournament run. In regionals, they came from behind to defeat UMass Lowell and Minnesota Duluth, and on Thursday they won in overtime after Michigan tied things in the third.

“We always have belief,” DU goalie Magnus Chorna said. “No matter what, no matter how much we are down, we always have a chance and we always stick with it. And now we are here.”

DU managed to make it through an entire game, plus overtime, against Michigan without a penalty. The Pioneers were assessed their first penalty of the Frozen Four — Benning was called for tripping — with 7:37 left in the first period against Minnesota State.

Going into the contest, the Pioneers knew they’d need to stay out of the box to be successful, as the Mavericks convert on 27% of their power plays.

With 25 seconds left on the advantage, Brendan Furry fired a shot on Chorna. It ricocheted off the DU goalie and bounced to Lucas Sowder. The junior then pushed the puck to Sam Morton, who finished the play for his ninth goal of the season.

In the net for DU, Chorna got plenty of action in the second frame, as Minnesota State sent 10 shots his way. Midway through, David Silye outskated the DU defense and went one-on-one with Chorna, who was able to make the save.

He had another save six minutes later, this one highlight reel worthy, as a Sowder attempt flew through the air, only for Chorna to block it over the net with his skate.

“Magnus made save after save there in big moments,” coach David Carle said. “That gave the guys life. He was putting it on the line for us. We needed to up our game.”

The Pioneers got their second power play of the game, but once again came up empty. The Mavericks killed 87% of their opponents’ power plays this season.

When the Pioneers went to the locker room after the second, Carle didn’t need to give a grand speech. His message was simple, and the Pioneers listened.

“It was more just reinforcing the game plan,” Carle said. “Rather than focusing on the scoreboard, we felt like if we can get to doing what we do, then we could give ourselves a chance.”

After Rizzo scored DU’s third goal, Minnesota State pulled McKay, and sent six players on the attack. Brett Stapley and Cameron Wright added empty net goals to finish the contest and secure DU’s ninth title.

Carle’s next goal is to be the first team to get to 10 titles. Every player that comes to Denver is challenged to win championships, he says.

“It’s not easy to play at Denver,” Carle said. “We challenge recruits when they come to campus. We challenge our players and hold them accountable.”

Ryan Barrow was one of those recruits. Now, he has a championship. The senior is looking forward to watching the hype video of this title game, and who knows what recruit will watch it too. Dreaming of doing the same thing, and setting the goal of winning number 10.

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