The end is near for Colorado College’s most experienced players.
Five seniors — Patrick Cozzi, Chad Sasaki, Connor Mayer, Noah Prokop and Matt Vernon — and one graduate student, Bryan Yoon, will play their final regular-season games in black and gold this week against Denver.
For some of those guys, the reality of only a few weeks left at the program is looming large.
“I was thinking about that Sunday or Monday, trying to figure out what I’m doing next year,” Cozzi said. “It definitely comes at you pretty quick. But I’m just trying to cherish the moment with my teammates.”
For others, it hasn’t hit — but they know it will.
“I know it’s coming, but it still doesn’t feel like it quite yet,” Yoon said.
Their works haven’t always been flashy, but CC’s group of seniors has played an integral role in the Tigers’ rebuilding process.
All six of those guys have different roles that have helped lay the groundwork for future generations of Tigers. Their 2022-23 record (10-19-3) might not show it, but the Tigers have made strides and have become more competitive in the NCHC, one of college hockey’s best leagues.
“Just working hard every day, setting an example, trying to help the younger guys,” Cozzi said. “There are a lot of leaders (in our class), and we’ve just tried to lead by example.”
From the day those six stepped on campus they had another goal: Expand the team’s outreach.
Fast forward a few years, and the Tigers are confident they have done so. CC has consistently hosted community events and immersed itself in the downtown Colorado Springs setting.
“We wanted to make an impact, on and off the ice,” Cozzi said. “We wanted to get to know a lot of people outside the hockey team. Giving back to the community is a big part.”
Coach Kristofer Mayotte took over midway through their careers. In just two years with those six, Mayotte has seen the impact they have made and they will continue to make on the program.
“They’ve been incredible,” Mayotte said. “They’ve been the leaders of us trying to push this program and lead it. You look at the roles they play for us, and they’re huge.”
While the days of those six are numbered, there’s still work to do.
CC is looking to avoid a season sweep against Denver this weekend, with a home-and-home series. Plus, the Tigers will play in the NCHC Tournament after the DU series.
Even with the emotions of senior night and the Tigers playing their final game at Ed Robson Arena on Saturday, they’re trying to avoid distractions surrounding the moment.
“I’m just trying to keep everyone even-keeled and show them my experience,” Yoon said. “Keep our heads and keep playing our game.”