There isn’t much time to study the Gold Pan trophy, now in Colorado College’s possession after a four-season stay in Denver.
By the time the Tigers lifted the coveted hardware, the postseason was less than a week away. CC and Western Michigan both swept their final regular-season series, allowing the Broncos to leapfrog the Pioneers into third place and host the Tigers.
Reacquiring the Gold Pan was one of Colorado College’s goals this season — a first-ever trip to St. Paul, Minn. for the NCHC Frozen Faceoff sounds good, too. The Broncos are in the way.
“We’ve been playing playoff hockey for about three months now,” co-captain Mason Bergh said. “I think we’ve prepared ourselves pretty well, but we’ve got to continue to learn, continue to develop, and work our butts off to beat Western.
“It’s a hard-nosed hockey team and a hard building to play in. Should be fun.”
Western Michigan (20-13-1, 13-10-1 NCHC) is the only team in the conference Colorado College didn’t visit this season. The teams split a series in Colorado in late February, with the Broncos rallying to an overtime victory and then falling 8-2 as CC freshman Ben Copeland broke out for four goals.
Colt Conrad is second in the league with 36 points (10 goals, 26 assists). Fellow senior Trevor Gorsuch played 29 of 34 games between the pipes and sports a .905 goals-against average.
Though he missed a significant chunk of time for the second straight season, junior Wade Allison has five goals in his past three games, including a hat trick in the regular-season finale against Miami.
Western has scored the second-most goals in the league with an average of 3.53 per game, but allowed the second-most (3.15 average). The Broncos’ faceoff prowess (54.4 percent) and shooting percentage (11.7) are fifth-best in the country.
Lawson Arena, home of the Broncos since 1974, is known to be small and raucous. It seats 3,667.
For the Tigers’ (15-17-4, 9-12-3 NCHC) part, a 4-2 finish — all against ranked teams — and taking a few of the close games that have plagued them boosted confidence.
“I think that we’ve kind of shot ourselves in the foot throughout the year, our consistency was up and down,” co-captain Tanner Ockey said. “But putting these two games together going right into the playoffs is really big for us.”