There’s no room for error if Colorado College wants the Gold Pan back.

No. 6 Denver did just enough offensively and then blanketed the slow-starting Tigers on Tuesday to win a postponed game 1-0.

Denver went 1-0-1 in the first half of the rivalry series, and as the current keepers of the trophy, they will hold onto it if the Tigers do anything other than sweep March 8-9.

“We struggled as a group to get a grip,” goaltender Alex Leclerc said. “Once we did, there was a chance to win. It was a winnable hockey game. But we didn’t have that extra gear.”

Most of the first period was spent in the Tigers’ end. Denver kept the Tigers to the perimeter, Devin Cooley’s sightlines clear and second chances limited.

“Not timid, but kind of standing around, thought maybe it was going to be like the (five-goal) third period the other night,” coach Mike Haviland said. “You have to play that hard all the time, and then when we did, we couldn’t get to the equalizer.”

Leclerc held off the Pioneers as long as he could with a series of acrobatic saves, but Tyson McLellan tapped home a Jake Durflinger feed off the rush 7:48 into the game. The forward’s first of the season held up.

The Pioneers (18-8-4, 10-8-2-2 NCHC) drew two calls at the end of long shifts, but the CC penalty killers kept the margin at a goal. Bergh sent a shorthanded bid off the crossbar and Trevor Gooch came close on a second attempt.

Several times, turnovers nearly bit the Tigers.

“Not wrong choices, but choices that could have been simplified. There was a better option,” Leclerc (29 saves) said. “They’re a team that’s very opportunistic and they managed to create a lot of offense out of those.”

Both power plays sputtered, as Denver went 0-for-5 and CC, 0-for-4.

Cooley finished with a 24-save shutout. The Tigers (12-16-4, 6-11-3) were held scoreless for the fourth time this season. They are 4-9 in one-goal games.

The game was postponed to Tuesday after the Pioneers couldn’t make the trip through weather-snarled traffic Jan. 18. A home-and-home series awaits in two weeks, after the Tigers host North Dakota.

Denver took the series lead in the Gold Pan era last season, and has won it 13 times to CC’s 12. The Tigers last won it in 2013-14.

“We want to win that trophy back. If you don’t want to win a trophy, you shouldn’t play the game of hockey,” Leclerc said. “You’ve got to want to step up.”

Load comments