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

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The Great Lakes Invitational tournament began in 1965 with Michigan Tech as the host team. The Huskies were the only Michigan-based team that participated that year. At least three of the four teams that have participated each year since the 1979 tournament have been Michigan-based Division I men’s teams. The champion is awarded the MacInnes Cup.

The 2013 edition of the tournament was unique in that it took place outdoors at Comerica Park in Detroit. It was held the final weekend in December and included four Michigan teams: Michigan Tech, Western Michigan, Michigan and Michigan State. This was the third time this grouping of teams had faced off against one another in the tournament. However, it was the first time this tournament was played outdoors.

This 49th edition of the tournament was included as part of the festivities around the 2014 NHL Winter Classic that took place on New Year’s Day. In that game, the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 in a shootout at Michigan Stadium. The NHL game at Michigan Stadium was originally scheduled to occur the previous year – along with an outdoor Great Lakes Invitational tournament – but everything was pushed back due to the 2012 NHL lockout that season.

The first game of the 2013 Great Lakes Invitational was between Michigan State and Michigan Tech. The announced crowd was more than 25,000 on December 27. The Spartans came into the game with a 5-9-1 record in the first year of Big Ten Hockey. Michigan Tech had already swept the Spartans in Houghton, Michigan, the previous month. The Huskies also had a losing record of 6-9-5 in the new-look WCHA. Michigan State scored two early goals in the third period to go up 2-1. But Alex Petan of Michigan Tech scored the equalizer 8:13 into the period and that’s how it remained until the end of regulation. A shootout was needed to determine which team would advance to the tournament championship the following day. Michigan Tech’s Ryan Furne scored the shootout winner in the fifth round to send the team to the championship.

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The second game of the Day 1 was between Michigan and Western Michigan. Sitting at a 10-2-2 record, the Wolverines were the favorite to win the tournament. Western Michigan sported a 7-8-3 record and represented the brand-new NCHC conference. The Broncos were the runner-up in the previous year’s Great Lakes Invitational. The two teams had yet to face one another that season prior to the tournament. The Wolverines got on the board first with a shorthanded goal by JT Compher in the second period. But the Broncos bounced back and scored two of their own before the second frame was over. The Wolverines tied the score in the third and that’s how it remained at the end of regulation. With just nineteen seconds left in overtime, Josh Pitt scored the game winner for Western Michigan to send the Broncos to the title game.

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The MacInnes Cup would be awarded to either Michigan Tech or Western Michigan on December 28. But first the consolation game would be played between Michigan and Michigan State. The two rivals had yet to play that season. The Spartans surprised the college hockey world by shutting out Michigan 3-0. With many people picking Michigan to win the tournament, the team ended up in 4th place out of four teams.

More than 26,000 fans were in attendance to see which team would be the first to hoist the MacInnes Cup outdoors. It was a rematch of the previous year’s Great Lakes Invitational championship game that saw the Huskies blank the Broncos 4-0. In this rematch, the teams were evenly matched and both had great scoring chances. At one point in the second period Daniel Holmberg of Michigan Tech hit the cross bar for no goal. By the end of the game, shots were 33-31 in favor of Michigan Tech yet no goals had been scored. The game would be decided in overtime. It only took two minutes and one second for Justin Kovacs to score the game-winning goal. It was the second time the Broncos won the Great Lakes Invitational and first time since 1986.

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The same four teams will participate in this year’s Great Lakes Invitational. It will be the fifth time this grouping of teams will participate in the tournament (with the fourth being in 2016.) However, it will be a showcase tournament with games being held at Munn Ice Arena in East Lansing and Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor. The first two games will be held December 29 when Michigan State will host Western Michigan and Michigan will host Michigan Tech. The two visiting teams are scheduled to swap ice arenas the following night with Michigan State hosting Michigan Tech on Saturday and Michigan hosting Western Michigan. Unfortunately, Michigan announced December 27 that the team is cancelling the game on Saturday against Western Michigan. The official release stated health and welfare protocols but it sounds like it is not due to COVID but instead to prevent wear and tear on a roster that is missing five players to the IIHF World Junior Championship in Canada. This tournament will look different than previous iterations and no champion will be crowned for the second year in a row since last year’s tournament was canceled due to COVID. But the bright spot is that college hockey will be showcased again this holiday season in the state of Michigan.

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On February 17, 2020, Air Force and Colorado College took the Battle for Pikes Peak outside for the first time. Air Force hosted Colorado College in the second game of a home-and-home series. It was played outdoors at the football stadium in game that was touted as the Faceoff at Falcon Stadium. It was the first outdoor hockey game in program history for Air Force and the second for Colorado College – the first was against Denver at Coors Field in 2016. This was also the second outdoor hockey game played on the field at Falcon Stadium in three days. The NHL hosted a Stadium Series game two days earlier on Saturday that saw the Los Angeles Kings defeat the Colorado Avalanche 3-1.

The Tigers won the first game of the weekend at home on Friday night 6-2 and were looking for the first back-to-back wins since sweeping Princeton in December. The Falcons were hoping to get back in the win column for the first time since a sweep against Niagara in January. And above all, the Pikes Peak Trophy hung in the balance. The two teams first met in 1969 and created the Pikes Peak Trophy in 2013 to be awarded each year.

Grant Cruikshank broke the proverbial ice when he scored a power-play goal in the first period. He scored the second goal of the game halfway through the second period to make it 2-0 Tigers. The Falcons got on the board with a power-play goal of their own with only 34 seconds left in the second frame. The teams traded goals early in the third period. With Air Force down one goal, Grant Cruikshank netted the hat trick and put the game away with 37 seconds left in regulation. Colorado College defeated Air Force 4-2 and retained the Pikes Peak Trophy.

The same two teams will reignite the Battle for Pikes Peak this weekend. The rivalry was put on hold last season due to COVID scheduling. The home-and-home series starts off (indoors) at Air Force on Friday with Colorado College hosting the second game at the brand new Ed Robson Arena on Saturday. Air Force will be looking to bring home the Pikes Peak Trophy for the first time since 2017.

In the above photo, Luke Manning drives to the net as Colorado College goalie Matt Vernon prepares for a shot.

Photo Credit: Trevor Cokley via DVIDS

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The date: April 9, 2016. The location: Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida. The teams: number one overall seed Quinnipiac Bobcats versus number three overall seed North Dakota. The stakes: 2016 Division I men’s national champion.

Quinnipiac entered the game as the ECAC regular season and tournament champion with a 32-3-7 record. North Dakota entered the game as an at-large bid after losing in the NCHC semifinals to UMD 4-2. However, the Fighting Hawks won the NCHC regular season crown and were heading into the title game with a 33-6-4 record. This was a heavyweight battle for the title and a packed house of 19,358 were there to take in every moment of it.

The championship game was scoreless for the first half of the opening period until freshman Shane Gersich put North Dakota on the board first. Several minutes later fellow freshman Brock Boeser scored a short-handed goal for the Fighting Hawks to make it 2-0. Quinnipiac would get on the board at the end of the period on a 5-on-3 power-play goal from Tim Clifton. There was no scoring in the second frame. North Dakota senior Drake Caggiula scored two goals in the third period to put the game out of reach for the Bobcats. Austin Poganski put the final stamp on the game and sealed it for the Fighting Hawks halfway through the third period. The final score was 5-1. This was North Dakota’s eighth national championship for the men’s team and first since 2000.

This weekend, these same two teams will meet on the ice for the first time since this championship tilt. Quinnipiac will host North Dakota on Friday and Saturday at the team’s home arena in Hamden, Connecticut. Not only will it be a rematch of the championship game from five years ago, it will also be a top ten battle. North Dakota travels east as the number 6 team in the nation with Quinnipiac as the number 7 team. As it stands, the Fighting Hawks own a 4-0 record against the Bobcats and it will be the first time North Dakota has played in Hamden. There are no longer any Quinnipiac Bobcats on the team from the 2016 title game but head coach Rand Pecknold surely remembers it well. He will look to avenge that loss this weekend with a win or two in yet another heavyweight battle between these two programs.

This is the first article in our new On Location series where we will live tweet a college game that we attend in person and then later post an article here on the site.

Teams: St. Cloud State Huskies at St. Thomas Tommies

Where: Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota

When: October 3, 2021 at 5:07 p.m.

Puck drop at the first St. Thomas home game on October 3, 2021
Opening puck drop at the first St. Thomas home game on October 3, 2021.

This was the second game of a home-and-home series to begin the 2021-22 season for these two teams. St. Cloud State hosted the first game on Saturday night and showed the new Division I team why they are ranked #2/3 in the preseason polls. The Huskies impressively won 12-2. The same two teams met on Sunday evening on October 3, 2021, in St. Paul. It’s credited as the first Division I home game for St. Thomas despite it being at the Xcel Energy Center instead of the team’s St. Thomas Ice Arena. 4,261 fans were in attendance.

St. Cloud State jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a power play goal from Zach Okabe in the first period. Jami Krannila and Spencer Meier assisted on the play. Shots on goal in the first period were 12-4 in favor of the Huskies.

St. Cloud State celebrates a first period goal to put the Huskies up 1-0
St. Cloud State celebrates a first period goal to put the Huskies up 1-0.

The Xcel Energy Center is home to the NCHC Frozen Faceoff. This weekend of hockey played every March includes the final four teams left in the conference tournament with the winner of the title game hoisting the Frozen Faceoff trophy and earning an automatic bid to the national tournament. The NCHC conference tournament took place in Grand Forks, North Dakota in 2021 but the Frozen Faceoff will return to St. Paul in 2022. This game against St. Thomas is the first time St. Cloud State has played at the Xcel Energy Center since March 23, 2019, when the Huskies lost 3-2 in 2OT to UMD in the 2019 NCHC Frozen Faceoff title game.

NCHC team logos showing that the Xcel Energy Center is home of the NCHC Frozen Faceoff
The Xcel Energy Center is home to the NCHC Frozen Faceoff.

In the second period, the Huskies scored again to make it 2-0 heading into the third period. This time the goal was from Micah Miller with the assist from Kevin Fitzgerald. The Tommies had several chances but came up short. Shots in the second frame were 7-6 in favor of St. Cloud State.

St. Thomas gets a shot off in the second period of the October 3, 2021 game
St. Thomas gets a shot off in the second period of the October 3, 2021 game against St. Cloud State.

There’s an area in the Xcel Energy Center that is devoted to the Hobey Baker and Patty Kazmaier Memorial Awards. It includes a list of past winners, replica Hobey Baker Award, and jerseys of a handful of past recipients. There are also summaries of the awards and what they mean to the hockey community.

There was no scoring in the third period. St. Thomas pulled the goalie but no goals were scored for either team before time expired. St. Cloud State outshot the Tommies 29-14. David Hrenak recorded his first shutout of the season as the Huskies opened the season with two wins. The Tommies put up a good fight but are still looking for the program’s first Division I win.

St. Cloud State still pushing the puck in the final minutes of the St. Cloud State and St. Thomas game on October 3, 2021
Final minutes of the St. Cloud State and St. Thomas game on October 3, 2021.

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The second semifinal game of the 2021 Frozen Four will look familiar to hockey fans. When Massachusetts and Minnesota Duluth drop the puck Thursday night, they’ll be playing against one another for the first time since the most recent championship game in 2019. In that game, UMD blanked UMass 3-0 to earn back-to-back titles. Since there wasn’t a Frozen Four last year, UMD is looking to three-peat while UMass is looking to avenge their loss. In the accompanying photo, Hunter Shepard sprawls out to block a shot from Anthony Del Gaizo to help preserve his seventh shutout of the 2018-19 season. Shepard finished his NCAA career undefeated in the NCAA tournament at 8-0. The upcoming game on Thursday will mark the fourth Frozen Four in a row for UMD and the second in a row for UMass. UMD is looking to become the first three-peat champion since Michigan did so in 1951-53. However, the roles are reversed for this meeting as UMass is the higher seed instead of UMD. If the Bulldogs win, they’ll head back to the championship game looking for the program’s fourth title. If the Minutemen advance, they’ll be looking to win their first championship trophy.

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A little over 50 years ago in St. Cloud, Minnesota, the Huskies hosted the hockey team from Mankato. The southern Minnesota team we currently know as the Minnesota State Mavericks were known as the Mankato State University Indians when this game occurred. St. Cloud State games at that time were played outdoors on campus. This January 1971 game took place towards the end of the outdoor game era in St. Cloud as they moved indoors to the Municipal Athletic Complex in the early 1970s. The two teams split the series in St. Cloud during the second-to-last weekend in January that year. The accompanying photo was taken at one point during these two games. In it, Paul Oberstar skates with the puck for the Huskies as the two teams look on in front of a snowy embankment. These two programs faced each other four times in a row at this point in the 1970-71 schedule with Mankato winning three. This game took place two years prior to the designation of Divisions within the NCAA. However, both of these teams at the time were effectively Division II-equivalent programs. St. Cloud State made the leap to Division I in 1987 and Minnesota State followed suit in 1996. St. Cloud State and Minnesota State were WCHA foes for 14 seasons before conference realignment in 2013. Up until now, they have never faced one another within the NCAA Division I National Tournament. That streak will end Thursday as they face off against each other in the first semifinal game of the 2021 Frozen Four. The Huskies and Mavericks are both looking for their first Division I men’s hockey championship.

Image courtesy of the St. Cloud State University Archives.

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As the de facto home team in the 2011 Frozen Four, Minnesota Duluth made itself at home in St. Paul. In what is currently the most recent championship game decided in overtime, UMD won its first national title when Kyle Schmidt scored 3:22 into overtime. The Bulldogs had been less than three minutes away from winning it in regulation but Jeff Rohrkemper tied the game at 2 for Michigan. The only #1 seed that made to the Frozen Four that year was North Dakota. Both UMD and Notre Dame were 3 seeds and Michigan a 2 seed. The Wolverines shocked the crowd in the semifinals when they blanked North Dakota 2-0. UMD defeated the Fighting Irish 4-3 to stamp their ticket to the championship game. This was the first of three trophies UMD won in the 2010s. The Bulldogs’ second championship also took place at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul seven years later in 2018. For the first time since this overtime thriller in 2011, Minnesota Duluth and Michigan will meet Friday afternoon in Fargo. The winner of this 2021 opening round game will face the winner of North Dakota and American International.

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Two years ago on March 23, 2019, Minnesota Duluth outlasted St. Cloud State in two overtimes to become 2019 Frozen Faceoff Champions. The game set the record for the longest game in Frozen Faceoff history falling just short of the overall NCHC record for longest game played within the conference. Billy Exell tied the game 2-2 for UMD on a short handed goal with under five minutes remaining in the third period. After a scoreless extra session, Nick Swaney capped off a 2-on-1 breakaway in the second overtime period to give the Bulldogs their second Frozen Faceoff championship in three years. At the time of the game, the Huskies were ranked #1 in the country and favored to beat the #4 ranked Bulldogs. Minnesota Duluth carried over their postseason win streak to the NCAA tournament and ultimately captured the program’s first back-to-back national championship after defeating UMass in the title game.

Intrastate rivals Denver and Colorado College are shown here at the old University of Denver Arena in the 1950s. The two teams first met on the ice in 1950 during Denver’s inaugural year of fielding a team. In the game featured in this photo, Denver wore white sweaters while Colorado College wore gold. In 1993, the Pioneers and Tigers established a Gold Pan trophy to be awarded every season to the team that wins the most head-to-head regular season games between the two teams. The season series this year is currently split 1-1. However, the chase for the Gold Pan will need to wait a little longer because the series that was supposed to happen over the weekend has been postponed due to COVID. The two teams are slated to play six regular season games this year instead of the typical four due to an all-conference schedule.

Photo Credit: Digital Collections at DU