Finally, the Tigers are seeing gold again.
The clock wound down and the gear went flying as Colorado College held on for a 1-0 win over No. 6 Denver, ensuring the Gold Pan trophy would return to the Springs for the first time since 2014.
“Four years. Long overdue there for our class,” senior Trevor Gooch said. “I can’t even put into words how good it feels.”
The Tigers needed a weekend sweep of the Pioneers, and they got it Saturday at The Broadmoor World Arena on Senior Night. CC made Grant Cruikshank’s first-period goal stretch and Alex Leclerc posted a 30-save shutout.
Gooch’s wraparound was off the mark just over a minute and a half into the game, but the puck dribbled to freshman Cruikshank. He put in his 11th of the season, good for second on the team.
A week and a half previously, the Pioneers came into The Broadmoor World Arena and rode an early one-goal lead all the way to the final horn. The Tigers used that formula Saturday. They had their chances to extend the lead, but spent most of the third period withstanding a furious Denver attack, blocking 22 shots total.
“It seemed like the last 25 seconds was 10 minutes long,” Gooch said.
For the second straight night, Denver (19-10-5, 11-10-3-3 NCHC) saw an apparent tying goal waved off, and the call upheld on review. The puck was swatted in off a glove during the second period. Pioneers goaltender Devin Cooley made 21 saves.
Western Michigan swept Miami and moved into third place, which means the Tigers (15-17-4, 9-12-3 NCHC) are headed to Kalamazoo, Michigan, for the first round of the NCHC playoffs next weekend.
The senior class consisting of Gooch, Cole McCaskill, Tanner Ockey, Trey Bradley, Mason Bergh, Westin Michaud, Ben Israel and Andrew Farny were honored with members of their families before the game. Nate Kwiecinski, a member of the class who retired from playing last year, was also honored.
Tied for third-highest in scoring among the country's senior classes, CC’s group was only represented on the scoresheet Saturday by Gooch and McCaskill, but it contributed in many other ways, as it has through four up-and-down seasons.
“The fight that it took to get this — it’s been a long time coming, especially for us seniors,” Bergh said.
The seniors lifted both regular-season trophies they’d never won before. Colorado College beat Air Force to claim the Pikes Peak Trophy in October.
This time, the trophy — hoisted by Bergh — made a beeline for the student section, packed among an announced attendance of 4,960.
Coach Mike Haviland will send the trophy home with the players before it takes up residence in the locker room. The original Gold Pan was lost by Denver in the early 2000s, but Haviland has faith in the Tigers, particularly the seniors after “a hell of a weekend.”
“It shows you who they really are, their true character,” Haviland said. “Their first two years were lean years. Nobody forgets.
“This was a big thing for our entire program.”