DENVER - The host Pioneers downed Colorado College 2-1 Saturday night, but as is often the case with this great college hockey rivalry, it was not easy.
It is the Gold Pan series after all.
Just when Colorado College looked headed quietly to defeat, freshman Alex Roos snapped a shot past Denver goalie Sam Brittain and suddenly the National Collegiate Hockey Conference game was up for grabs.
"CC did a great job coming at us," Denver coach Jim Montgomery said. "Their forwards were buzzing."
Roos power-play goal was the Tigers' first since the Oct. 18 season opener and a Magness Arena crowd of 6,038 was suddenly a little nervous.
The Tigers pulled senior goalie Josh Thorimbert (22 saves) for the final 1:27 but could only manage one shot against a scrambling Pioneers defense.
The rally was necessary after CC (1-6-1, 1-4-1 NCHC) was unable to capitalize on 9? minutes of power play through the first two periods.
"We should have been up 2-0; we should have been in control," Tigers coach Scott Owens said. "It's getting a little too repetitious though I thought this was our best Saturday of the season. I liked the way we battled. Sam Brittain played excellent."
Brittain and his 39 saves was the key to a good Pioneers penalty kill that kept CC scoreless until late.
"Whenever you have a kill at 90 percent, it's your goaltender," Montgomery said. "Sam probably made 16 great saves on the penalty kill."
Brittain's performance set the stage for Denver's third-period surge.
Denver freshman Will Butcher broke the defensive deadlock when he lofted a shot through traffic with 18:31 left in the third period to make it 1-0. The power-play goal was the first allowed by Colorado College since a 2-1 loss Oct. 25 at Clarkson.
Less than six minutes later, Denver pulled away when Zac Larazza lifted in his own power-play rebound. The two scores came against a CC penalty kill that entered the game ranked sixth in the nation at 92.6 percent (25 for 27). It is now 28 for 32.
The Tigers needed some good luck but did not get it. A short-handed chance by Alexander Krushelnyski hit the cross bar during the second period and another shot by Roos clanged away harmlessly off the post in the third.
CC team's defense continued to perform well, recording 24 blocks, including 13 in the first period. But the Tigers' offensive struggles continue and CC enters a bye week on a losing note.
"It won't rain forever," Roos said. "We just need to keep working and the goals will come."