Relevant Rewind: Year five of Denver and Colorado College rivalry
The first hockey game between the University of Denver and Colorado College was played January 6, 1950. It was just the fifth game in program history for Denver. The twelve-year head start in hockey for Colorado College was evident in a 16-0 shellacking that the Tigers provided to the new kids on the block. The next night was a closer contest when the Tigers only won by ten goals in another shutout. It didn’t get any easier for the Pioneers that season – or the next – as Denver went winless against Colorado College in the first two seasons of the program. Denver finally struck gold in the tenth game between these intrastate rivals and won 4-3 in Colorado Springs.
By the time the 1953-54 season arrived, Denver was ready to build upon a 17-6-1 season. Colorado College had dipped to a 9-11-0 record the year before. The two teams played four times during the season with three of the four games taking place in 1954. Colorado College hosted the first meeting December 19, 1953. The visitors won the game 7-5. It was the first conference game of the season for both teams with each program having played school alumni and the Edmonton Oil Kings to open the season. A home-and-home series was on tap the following month. On January 15, 1954, Denver welcomed the Tigers to the University of Denver Arena and won 5-4. The next night the teams traveled to Colorado Springs and the Tigers earned a split in the series with a 6-5 victory. The final game of the season between these two teams took place February 27. Denver’s archives state that the game was played at home while Colorado College’s archives state that the game was played at that school’s home rink. We here at College Hockey History are led to believe that it was played in Denver in order to complete the even schedule of two home games per team. The Pioneers won the final game against their rival 6-2 and won the season series 3-1. Denver ended the season with a 16-9-0 record. Colorado College bounced back with a winning season at 14-9-1.
Did Denver’s early losses to Colorado College in the opening stages of the program jump-start this rivalry for Denver? Did it provide an extra kick to this program and ultimately fuel a dynasty that emerged the following decade? This could very well be the case. Either way, the rivalry took off and Denver quickly fielded a competitive team.
The Pioneers would have won the Gold Pan trophy in 1954 if it had been around at the time. However, it was first introduced in 1993 to be awarded every season to the team that wins the most head-to-head regular season games between these two teams. Denver won the Gold Pan last season with a 3-1 season record over Colorado College. The two teams have yet to play this season. That changes this weekend as the teams play a home-and-home series starting in Denver at Magness Arena on Friday. The Saturday game will be the first game between these two teams at the new Ed Robson Arena for Colorado College. This also marks the first time the two teams will play against one another on the Colorado College campus. Fans attending the games this weekend or watching at home will see games 329 and 330 in the all-time series.
In the featured photo, two players wearing number 9 for Denver and Colorado College vie for the puck in the corner. Colorado College is in white while Denver is wearing Crimson sweaters. The referee looks on as well as a ring of fans in the standing-room section at ice level. The University of Denver Arena was almost-assuredly a full house for the rivalry. The photo was taken either January 15 or February 27, 1954. The Denver player is Barrie Middleton.
Photo Credit: Digital Collections at DU