Colorado College and sixth-ranked Denver could wind up playing each other six times in three weeks. That’s kind of a lot.
“Never enough,” junior Alex Berardinelli said.
The in-state rivals face off this weekend for the Gold Pan trophy, which the Pioneers have held onto since 2015. The Tigers need a sweep — no double overtime — of the home-and-home series that starts Friday at Magness Arena.
Colorado College is locked into the sixth seed, but the Tigers can still impact the National Collegiate Hockey Conference playoffs. Minnesota-Duluth, Denver and Western Michigan are in the mix for the No. 3 seed, which will host the Tigers in the first round.
Currently at No. 3, the Pioneers are four points ahead of the Broncos and four behind the Bulldogs. If the Tigers pulled off the weekend sweep and reclaimed the Gold Pan, Western Michigan could move up with a good weekend at Miami. They hold several potential tiebreakers with Denver.
Minnesota-Duluth is at St. Cloud State, which is locked into the top seed. A St. Cloud Huskies sweep paired with a Denver sweep would scramble the seeds as well.
But who has time for what-ifs with the Gold Pan in play?
Colorado College’s eight-man senior class has one last chance to bring it home, and no margin for error. They want it, and everyone else wants it for them.
“As an alumni, being able to come back here, having won the Gold Pan in our time here would be an incredible feeling,” senior Cole McCaskill said.
“Those are some of the most fun games to play in. I think every guy will remember those Denver games for the rest of their lives.”
A third victory at Denver in 15 tries would send the series back to The Broadmoor World Arena for a deciding game on Senior Night.
“We don’t have a guy on the roster right now that’s ever won the Gold Pan,” Berardinelli said. “Guys are hungry for it, really want it. It would be just … incredible.”
The Tigers are 5-8-2 in 2019, with four of the losses coming in overtime and one in regulation vs. Denver on Feb. 26. The group often talks about how close they’ve come, how they’re right on the verge of being a feared team, and perhaps better than the numbers suggest.
“Whatever happens in the standings, I think we’re confident in the way we’ve played this second half that we can beat anyone in the country,” McCaskill said.
They’ll see, maybe even five times, against Denver.