Colorado College hopes renewing the rivalry against Denver jump-starts its season.
"It's coming at the right time," Tigers coach Scott Owens said. "This is an important weekend for our team and for theirs as well. This weekend is important for us to get better and to put ourselves in position to win the Gold Pan (trophy)."
"It gets real heated and intense," CC junior defenseman Ian Young said. "Hopefully that gets us going."
Colorado College (1-5, 1-3 National Collegiate Hockey Conference) will need to elevate its offensive effort to break through against a talented Pioneers defensive corps featuring Will Butcher, Joey LaLeggia, David Makowski and Nolan Zajac.
The Denver defensemen have accounted for 12 of the 19 Pioneers goals. LaLeggia leads the Pioneers with five goals, four on the power play, while Makowski shares the team lead with eight points (four goals) with sophomore center Quentin Shore (six assists).
"That is as good a group of defensemen as any in the country," Owens said. "We have to contain them and maintain an awareness of them."
The best way to keep the defensemen from Denver (3-5, 0-2) from helping on offense is to force them to spend more time in their zone. The Tigers are waiting for their line combinations to convert their scoring chances.
CC has scored only eight goals so far, two by freshman Alex Roos. A number of practice drills this week focused on passing and converting scoring chances down low.
Denver's biggest advantage may be in special teams with a strong penalty kill (90 percent) taking on a struggling Tigers power play (3.6 percent). Both teams have top-10 penalty kills and strong goaltending by CC senior Josh Thorimbert (.913 saves percentage) and Denver senior Sam Brittain (.937, ninth in nation).
"It just hasn't all come together yet," Owens said. "We need a win to get our team confidence going."
NCHC rules changed how ownership of the Gold Pan is determined. There are 12 points possible with three awarded per regulation or overtime win, two for shootout wins and one for shootout losses. In the event of a series tie, Denver retains the trophy.
The series dates back to Jan.?6, 1950. Denver leads 160-114-6 with CC enjoying a 15-9-8 mark over the past 32 games. CC has a winning record at World Arena (20-9-4) and Magness Arena (17-11-5).
"The rivalry the teams have, I don't know how you can't get pumped up," sophomore Hunter Fejes said. "I just love playing those guys."