October 18, 2013 Updated: October 19, 2013 at 7:04 am
Colorado College marched into the season and the National Collegiate Hockey Conference with a disciplined, breezy 3-1 victory over Minnesota-Duluth in front of a loud, reasonably jammed World Arena.
The victory gives hope to those who realize the point of college hockey is not spending the season competing in a cool, trendy conference. The point is to end the season competing in the NCAA Tournament.
And the Tigers might have what it takes to make their first trip to the postseason since 2011.
Sure, it's early, but there's always room for optimism when a team's goaltender resembles an impenetrable human wall.
And senior Josh Thorimbert resembled a wall for most of the night against the Bulldogs. Thorimbert has enjoyed and endured quite a ride with the Tigers, winning and losing the No. 1 role.
Eight minutes into the first period, Thorimbert announced he was ready. Duluth's Joe Basaraba launched a shot toward the corner of the net, but Thorimbert nonchalantly kicked it away.
When Thorimbert is at his best, he's as stingy and athletic as any goaltender of the Scott Owens era, which began in 1999.
Thorimbert was seldom at his best last season, and he watched from the bench during the Tigers late surge.
"I don't think it was an awful year," said Owens of Thorimbert's junior season, "but it was a disappointing year."
Thorimbert returned this season, his final chance, Owens reports, in superb shape.
Owens was impressed by Thorimbert's season debut.
"Josh looked strong," Owens said. "He looked mentally strong. He looked like a senior."
Thorimbert thinks like a senior, too. All the rises and falls of his career have produced a realist.
"If you're on, you're on," Thorimbert said, describing a goalie's life. "If you're not, you can be out of the net pretty quick."
He had little chance on Duluth's lone goal. The Tigers defense, tough and disciplined the rest of the night, allowed Austin Farley to skate within point-blank range. It was the only smudge on a strong night.
Earlier this week, Owens talked about the importance of a strong home opener. Last season, the Tigers stumbled to the first losing record (18-19-5) in Owens' 14 seasons.
But this was a losing season with a twist. The Tigers closed fast, winning six of their last seven and traveling to the brink of an NCAA Tournament berth before losing to Wisconsin.
Still, Owens realizes the encouraging dramas that ended last season all took place away from World Arena.
This encouraging drama was in full view of the home faithful. The Tigers rampaged into a new season and a new conference with impressive fury.