Denver wins 12th Gold Pan with second straight 3-1 victory

Photo courtesy DU Athletics

The #2 University of Denver Pioneers won (retained) the Gold Pan Trophy thanks to a 3-1 victory over the Colorado College Tigers tonight at Magness Arena. The victory marked the Pioneers’ 10th straight victory over their regional rival and extended their unbeaten streak to 14 games.

This victory also marks the 12th time that DU has won the Gold Pan Trophy, which is awarded annually to the winner of the season series between the Pioneers and Tigers. This is an important mark for the Pios as it draws them even with CC, who also has won the trophy 12 times since its inception 23-and-a-half years ago.

If there was anything we learned tonight or this weekend, it’s that CC really is as bad as advertised. Denver, for its part, skated the Tigers out of the World Arena and Magness Arena this weekend. The two 3-1 scorelines made both games seem far closer than they really were.

“It’s fun to see us continue to grow,” DU head coach Jim Montgomery said. “A lot of guys are getting a lot of offensive chances, they’re not burying them, but they’re getting a lot.”

Tonight, the Pios picked up right where they left off a night ago in Colorado Springs. From the opening puck drop, they had a step on CC. By the halfway point of the opening period, they were outshooting the Tigers 11-3, though CC took an early lead on a goal by Westin Michaud.

CC’s goal didn’t keep DU down long as Dylan Gambrell evened up the score on an incredible goal down low. He took a pass from Will Butcher in the low slot, tapped it off his skate and shot the puck high over CC goalie Alex Leclerc’s left shoulder to tie the game at 1. From there, the Pios didn’t let up. Evan Janssen scored with 48 seconds left in the first period and Logan O’Connor scored a shorthanded goal with 8 seconds left in the 2nd period to give DU the 3-1 victory.

Tonight’s game just wasn’t as close as the 3-1 score indicated…again. By the end of the evening, DU outshot CC 36-20. In the second period alone, Denver had to kill off 5 separate CC power plays including a long 5-on-3 power play. Not only did the Pios kill off every single one of them, they still managed to outshoot the Tigers 12-9.

“I thought #22 (O’Connor) was the best player on the ice tonight,” Montgomery said of his team’s penalty killing effort. “When we have #26 (Janssen) back, you see I throw them out there a lot. I thought that we blocked shots well and I thought Evan Cowley made a lot of key stops. That’s what you need if your penalty kill is going to come up [big].”

This weekend was a perfect encapsulation of the current state of the Battle for the Gold Pan. Denver is simply a better hockey team than Colorado College and sadly it appears that it’s going to stay that way for the foreseeable future.

Denver beat Colorado College twice this weekend, just like everyone expected. Denver outplayed Colorado College twice this weekend, just like everyone expected. Maybe Denver should have scored more than 6 goals in two games against a bad team, but hey they were without their leading scorer, Henrik Borgström, and it’s not easy to get up emotionally to play a bad hockey team, even if they are a rival.

The good news is DU didn’t look past CC with top-ranked Minnesota-Duluth coming to town next weekend. With these two victories, it’s all but assured that next weekend’s matchup at Magness Arena will be a #1 vs #2 showdown.

“It’s gonna be right here in Denver. We have #1 coming into our barn,” Montgomery said of next week’s matchup with Minnesota-Duluth. “I hope it’s loud, I hope it’s sold out. I know they’re going to see great hockey. It’s the two best teams in the country going at each other.”

7 thoughts on “Denver wins 12th Gold Pan with second straight 3-1 victory”

  1. Pios got the job done, but very poor atmosphere in Magness without the students in town (since DU is on winter break). I really hate it when rivalry games fall on school break periods…Tonight never felt like a rivalry game at all.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Puck, assuming CC is still in session, would you prefer we played 2 in the Springs now and two at Magness once school resumes? With our way too long six week break, that’s really the only solution. No students when current #1 Minn-Duluth comes to Magness next weekend is also a bummer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I prefer that to play CC home and home in early-to-mid November and again in early February, not in December. I would love to see DU playing road games for the first two weeks of December, not home series, since the students are out. Magness needs students, or it’s dead, period. The rest of the fan base is just not into making noise, as it gets in the way of conversations and phone-checking. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Solid performance last night. Always great to see a W vs CC and especially one that involves retention of the Gold Pan. The PK was good, there was some good offensive pressure, and defensively, DU was strong. Nice to see Janssen back in the lineup. He seems to bring a real workmanlike leadership presence to the team.

    Duluth in town next weekend. Can’t wait for that series.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I agree with the top comment in this topic. My wife and I were commenting how quiet it was during the game. We couldn’t remember it being so dull for CC. The craziness and unpredictability of the rivalry seems to be lost. Is it the Monty and Sandelin eras that haven’t passed on the tradition? The alums of both schools not speaking up??? Maybe it is the students absence, but we shouldn’t put it all on them. Maybe it has to do with CC not being very good right now; but we adult fans who go to these games are pathetic compared to other hockey schools. Here’s a hint: you’re allowed to stand up and clap!! Years past there were some great games between the 2 teams – we were recalling the Testwuide/Paukovich years…and the time Dusty Jackson and thier Captain went at it on the ice. And they should should actually physically present the Gold Pan to the winner after the game, on the ice and make a big deal of it. I don’t think there was anything said about the Gold Pan during the game on the PA.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s pretty simple. DU’s hockey crowd is mostly made up of older people and young families, who mostly see DU games largely as social events. They are not really emotionally invested in the outcomes of the games enough to make much verbal noise. Oh, they’ll cheer a bit after goals, and sometimes cheer a bit when the PA announcer or The Scoreboard tells them to “get loud”, but they are mostly simply not noisemakers. They buy the tickets, and DU caters to them.

    It’s not a highly knowledgeable hockey crowd, either, as good shifts or other non-scripted/prompted plays are rarely cheered, either. DU seems more interested in playing canned music and running minor league style promotions to attract them. They think it creates fan engagement – but I think most of it actually detracts from generating genuine team support and school spirit. If it were up to me (and it’s not up to me), I’d figure out a way to double the size of the band, let them play more often and have them at every game for a more collegiate sound. I’d teach our cheer team to skate as they do in Minnesota/North Dakota. I’d also cut the canned music in half, reduce the cheesy Zamboni races, kiss cams, and pizza screams and replace them with more engaging, hockey and game-related scoreboard content and make the games drip with DU tradition. This is college hockey…

    The DU students set the tone for school spirit, and when they are on break (70% are from out of the state), it’s difficult to generate much atmosphere in the house. Had this CC game been scheduled when the DU students were not on break, I think it would have been a different atmosphere with 500-700 DU students in the house, as is usually the case when DU plays CC.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I agree. Dull atmosphere. To be fair, not too many CC fans either. The band was good again.
    No Saturday night sumo any more replaced by someone rolling a tire….really?
    I have to admit I like the new ice skaters girls.
    Also, the Zamboni guy who fist bumps EVERY single person along the glass is cool and DU should do something to recognize this guy.

    Liked by 2 people

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