GRAND FORKS — The University of North Dakota won the Penrose Cup in dramatic fashion Saturday night, Feb. 29, when Shane Pinto scored an overtime goal to beat Western Michigan and bring the program its third National Collegiate Hockey Conference title in six years.
During the celebration, you may have heard a common theme: Players, coaches and fans referring to the league's championship trophy as the "Penne Rosa," instead of the Penrose.
What's the story behind that?
You have to go back to the 2014-15 UND team, which was the first to win it in program history. It happened during the second year of the NCHC's existence.
Noodles & Company had recently opened up a Grand Forks location near Columbia Mall. It became a popular dining spot for the players that season.
One of their most frequently ordered dishes was the Penne Rosa.
It was junior defenseman Jordan Schmaltz who began referring to the Penrose Cup as the "Penne Rosa" that season. Jordan was responsible for most nicknames the team came up with at that time — and UND hockey teams have never shied away from a good nickname.
A lot of players ate pregame meals at Noodles & Company during their junior hockey days in the United States Hockey League, so it only took a few players to begin saying it and it spread like wildfire.
It became commonplace enough in the locker room that Jordan's younger brother, Nick, even dropped the term during a press conference at the end of the season as UND closed in on the league title.
The assembled media thought Nick misspoke, but it had already started to become the nickname for the trophy within the team.
The title came down to the final weekend of the regular season. UND played at Miami, which was in second place. The RedHawks had a chance to win it with a sweep at home, but that didn't happen.
On Friday night, Zane McIntyre turned in a brilliant 43-save performance and UND won 2-1 on goals by Keaton Thompson and Connor Gaarder.
NCHC commissioner Josh Fenton presented the Penrose Cup to the team in the visiting locker room at Goggin Ice Center.
After a speech to the team, Fenton gave the Penrose to UND captain Stephane Pattyn. He held it and said a few words to the team. Then, Pattyn passed it to Gaarder, who held it up and yelled, "Penne Rosa, boys!"
The locker room roared with approval.
Players later took to Twitter and Instagram, calling it the "Penne Rosa." Later that year, whenever they'd go to Noodles & Company, they'd order it and send Snapchats of the dish to teammates with one-liners attached.
"Jordan for sure started calling it the Penne Rosa, strictly from Noodles & Company" one former player recalled. "Nick Schmaltz was also a pioneer in making the name stick along with Connor Gords."
The following year, UND won it again and everyone used the term once again. Even Dave Hakstol, who left to be the head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers that year, tweeted a congrats to his old team and referred to it as the "Penne Rosa."
The Fighting Hawks won it a third time Saturday night in Ralph Engelstad Arena. Fenton presented the trophy to the team on the ice.
Although not a single player on the roster was around when the team last won it, they carried the tradition forward and continued calling it the "Penne Rosa."
The Penrose Cup was named for Julie and Spencer Penrose, who have a long history with college hockey and whose foundation awarded the NCHC a grant.
Penrose Cup winners
2014 -- St. Cloud State
2015 -- North Dakota
2016 -- North Dakota
2017 -- Denver
2018 -- St. Cloud State
2019 -- St. Cloud State
2020 -- North Dakota