Photo Credit: Kevin Kreck, The Gazette
Dear CC Fans,
I was at the World Arena last night. I saw what happened. I saw DU take it to your Tigers. As you know, the 4-1 score could have and probably should have been more like 7-1 given the balance of play. I have to give your team some credit for their effort last night. They held the hottest team and the hottest line in college hockey to just one goal through 46 minutes of play. That’s a moral victory to be proud of when your team has just 6 wins on the year.
What struck me last night wasn’t the score, though. It wasn’t how DU held the puck in CC’s zone for almost the entire 2nd and 3rd periods. It wasn’t even the fact that the Pacific Rim Line notched their 25th point in their last 3 games (though my jaw did drop).
What struck me most last night was the shoddy attendance and complete lack of interaction by students and general fans alike.
Announced attendance was 6,831, but if there were more than 4,500 people in the stands last night, I’d be shocked. Sure, when CC opened the scoring, the cheer was decent, but from that point on, there was nothing. Last night’s crowd was, hands down, the worst I’ve ever seen at the World Arena.
What gives me standing to criticize CC though? I’m just a pathetic DU fan rubbing your team’s lack of success in your faces, right? Why should you listen to what I have to say?
I grew up in Monument, just north of Colorado Springs. Until 2004 (I know, I know) I was a CC fan. By the time I was 11, I had gone to a number of CC games. I was as big a CC fan as an 11-year-old could be. I loved the atmosphere at the World Arena and more than anything, I loved watching the Tigers win.
Everyone knows what happened in 2004, but I’ll remind you: DU won the first of their two straight national championships. As a budding, 11-year-old hockey fan, my loyalty was easily bought with a championship. As soon as the 3rd period buzzer sounded and the Pioneers rushed the ice after topping Maine 1-0 in Boston, I began bleeding crimson and gold. Such is life when you’re a young sports fan. You tend to follow success…or at least I did.
Believe it or not, it wasn’t until I was a student at DU that I attended my first DU-CC game. I knew the history. I knew the rivalry. I already hated the black and yellow. When I was a freshman, my first Gold Pan rivalry game at the World Arena was eye-opening to say the least. I had seen how much Colorado Springs loved their Tigers growing up, but the atmosphere when DU came to town was like nothing I had ever seen before. I’ll admit, I even envied it. DU fans had never been that passionate about the Pioneers.
The way the entire crowd got into the GO TIGERS and SIEVE chants and the roar that reverberated around the building when CC scored gave me chills. I always wanted DU’s crowd to get into it like CC’s did.
As my years at DU have passed, I have come to learn that the make up of a DU crowd is just different than that of a CC crowd. The Denver sports market is saturated and, when you share a city with the Super Bowl Champions, a good but not necessarily consistently championship-caliber college hockey program isn’t going to attract the most attention.
On the other hand, Colorado Springs and Colorado College hockey are one and the same. CC hockey is the only show in town, and man Colorado Springs shows up. I always admired that.
Until last night.
I was so disappointed in the crowd. The student section was a quarter full until halfway through the game. Then at that point it was only about half full and then didn’t engage at all. They even started leaving after DU scored their 2nd goal. The rest of the usually rabid, extremely anti-DU crowd, was tame. Joe Paisley, CC hockey beat writer for The Gazette even noticed how docile the black and yellow-clad fans were.
#CCTigers fans sitting on their hands
— Joe Paisley (@Paisleyhockey) February 19, 2016
Last night was the first time I’ve ever thought that DU’s crowd is better than CC’s and it was that thought that led me to write this open letter.
Listen, I know CC hockey is bad. Scott Owens screwed your beloved program when he dropped the ball on recruiting years ago. I also know there have been times when you’ve wondered whether Mike Haviland is the right man for the job. It’s not easy to support a team that has gone 19-72-10 since the inception of the NCHC. It’s hard to continue watching your program be the doormat of the best conference in the country.
Let’s be honest, who in their right mind would want to support and put themselves through this?
You, CC fans. You should.
I was in the press box at Magness Arena when CC scored 5 unanswered goals in Grand Forks to nearly beat the Fighting Hawks. I watched that game on NCHC.tv with such intrigue and fascination. The entire press box was tuned into that game.
We’d catch up with whatever was happening at Magness that night (I think Western Michigan was in town) after we saw how that CC-North Dakota game ended. When it ended and North Dakota had won the shootout, everyone looked at each other thinking the same thing:
“Did CC really just score 5 unanswered goals against North Dakota?”
It was at that moment that I realized CC is on its way back.
That’s why I’m begging you: please don’t give up on the Tigers. That hockey program needs you to keep showing up to the World Arena to show your support. CC won’t attract good recruits if you don’t show up.
When I look at the young core of this Tigers team, I see so much potential. These players skate well. They clog the middle of the ice. They can score goals. They’re just inexperienced.
I truly believe that CC will make a run at .500 next year and will make a serious case for home ice advantage in the first round of the NCHC tournament in two years. Haviland has your program on the right track and the Tigers will be nationally relevant again, soon.
So hang in there, Colorado Springs. Keep donning those black and yellow sweaters. Keep packing the World Arena. Keep dancing and keep yelling “SIEVE” along with “Are You Ready for This” after CC goals.
More than anything, keep the faith in your Tigers.
A good Colorado College hockey program is good for the University of Denver hockey program and a good Colorado College hockey team will come to be only if you keep showing up.
So please, CC fans and students, do better. Last night was pathetic. Remember that your support will translate into success.
All the best and go Pioneers,