The Pikes Peak Trophy has had a permanent home carved out at Cadet Ice Arena the past five seasons.
The Tigers would like to try out being gracious hosts.
Both teams have an important hurdle to clear first. Air Force will host new-look No. 13 Denver on Friday night, while CC meets Western Collegiate Hockey Conference team Alabama-Huntsville. They refuse to focus on each other until there’s another 60-plus minutes in the books.
But once that’s done, the latest entry in the crosstown rivalry will be on everyone’s minds.
“CC is going to be much improved this year, so it will definitely be a challenge, especially down on the big ice,” Air Force co-captain Matt Koch said. “It’s not going to be easy.”
In 2009, Air Force put an end to a 30-game losing streak against CC, and the rivalry has been contested ever since. The Pikes Peak Trophy was introduced in 2013 and has belonged only to the Falcons.
Neither team is happy with the first weekend of October, in which the Falcons dragged at times in a 2-2 scrimmage against the University of Alberta and weren’t as tenacious as coach Frank Serratore wanted them to be, and Colorado College exploded for 10 goals at Alaska-Anchorage but surrendered a third-period lead the next night.
“There’s not many times you put up a 10 spot,” Haviland said. “I think that might have hurt us a little bit, made us put our guard down.
“You can’t throw your sticks in the middle and think it’s going to happen. You’ve got to work again. I think we learned a pretty quick, valuable lesson here.”
It certainly won’t magically happen against Air Force, which beat CC in matching 6-3 decisions the past two seasons. The Falcons used that latest matchup as a springboard, finishing the season strong and earning a second straight conference tournament title and NCAA Tournament berth.
If the game is another high-scoring one, the Tigers have already shown they can hang.
Eight players, split among three classes and three lines, got on the board Saturday in Alaska.
“It was great to see everyone connecting with each other,” CC goaltender Alex Leclerc said.
“Once we calmed down … we realized we have really good assets on our team and we can compete with anybody.”
Next season, Serratore announced at a preseason luncheon, the teams will face each other twice. But this year, it all comes down to Saturday night.
“It’s always an important game, one of those hyped-up games,” National Collegiate Hockey Conference player of the week Westin Michaud said. “We just have to be ready to play.”