The last time Colorado College was still in the hunt for the Gold Pan trophy in the latter half of the season series, the Olympics were in underway in Sochi, Russia. The Canadian women’s hockey team had just beaten the U.S. Many watched at home, stricken with the flu, which was particularly bad that winter.
No. 3 Denver will want to end the throwback there. The defending champions visit Colorado Springs on Friday night, and one DU win will clinch the series - and the trophy - again.
But with a massive effort, there’s a chance, and that’s more than these Tigers could say before.
“It’s a lot different from previous years where we’ve been out of it immediately,” junior defenseman Cole McCaskill said. “They’re a great team, so it’s going to be a difficult weekend.”
The first two games between Denver and Colorado College in December both went down as an official tie, with each team securing the extra standings point in double overtime on the road.
In case of a series tie, the Gold Pan stays where it is - in Denver. The Tigers need at least a win and a tie to bring the trophy back to Colorado Springs for the first time since the 2013-14 season.
“Win and a tie. Not a lot of room for error,” McCaskill said. “I think every guy in there acknowledges that. But nobody’s got that back-against-the-wall mentality.”
The 2013-14 season also marks the last time Colorado College won a game against their rival to the north.
Coach Mike Haviland made it clear that the Tigers (12-12-4, 6-9-3 National Collegiate Hockey Conference) aren’t just playing for the Gold Pan. Every win inches them closer to home ice in the NCHC Tournament, a feat barely considered before the season.
“This team’s beat top-ranked teams all year. It’s not anything we don’t think we can do,” Haviland said. “I like that they have a little swagger, a little confidence in their game.”
Though Troy Terry is in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the Pioneers are made up of many threats, and Henrik Borgstrom and Dylan Gambrell are tied with CC’s Nick Halloran for second in the league in goals and first in assists, respectively. Tanner Jaillet leads the NCHC in wins (15) and goals-against average (1.95).
Haviland will still take his guys, who have a chance to end a long stretch of futility in a rivalry that goes back half a century.
“It’s who they are,” Haviland said. “It’s their character. It’s their never-say-die attitude.”