COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Denver showed Thursday why it has a 142-95-8 all-time record against intrastate rival Colorado College.
The Tigers needed to sweep the weekend series versus Denver in order to have an opportunity to earn the fifth seed for the first round of the WCHA playoffs. That scenario, however, did not play out for the Tigers, who fell to No. 8 Denver, 3-1, in game one of the series.
Instead, Denver, which holds tiebreakers over both Minnesota and St. Cloud State, itself secured a spot hosting the first round. The Gophers and Huskies both trail the Pioneers in the standings, and since they play one another this weekend, both teams cannot pass Denver.
The first period saw no goals, but plenty of chances for both teams. The play was even through the first 20 minutes; the Pioneers led the Tigers in shots 12-10, with each team registering five shots on the power play.
The Tigers’ best chance of the period came on a backhanded shot from Trevor Frischmon, which Denver goaltender Adam Berkhoel knocked out of the crease.
Denver dominated the last three minutes, registering four shots and a breakaway opportunity. Forward Connor James collected the puck in the neutral zone behind CC defenders and took it to the net. James shot the puck high and CC netminder Curtis McElhinney grabbed the rebound off of the glass.
Denver opened the scoring at 3:36 of the second stanza when junior Luke Fulghum put the puck past McElhinney from the top of the left circle. The teams traded penalties and the Pioneers notched their second of the game on the power play at 8:36.
With Tiger Westin Tardy in the box for interference, Denver forward Gabe Gauthier knocked the puck in from the slot under McElhinney’s blocker to make the score 2-0. Lukas Dora and Matt Carle got the helpers.
Tiger captain Colin Stuart got things going for CC when he put the puck past Berkhoel at 10:18. Aaron Slattengren pitched the puck to Stuart across the slot, Berkhoel grabbed for the puck, but it got away from his glove and went in the net to cut the Tiger deficit to one.
Neither team had scored in the third period, when the Tigers, in a final attempt to even the score, pulled McElhinney with 50 seconds remaining.
James notched the final goal of the game on a shot that trickled into the empty net. Denver held CC to six shots in the final stanza.
Thursday marked Colorado College head coach Scott Owens’ 200th game with the Tigers. His record now stands at 120-65-15.
The Tigers face off against Denver Friday night at Magness Arena to finish off the two-game series to end both teams’ regular seasons. The puck drops at 7:35.