First Time For Everything

With victories Friday, Denver and Colorado College not only set up a clash of the two top-ranked teams in the nation Saturday in the WCHA championship game, they arranged an historic clash: the first time the Rocky Mountain rivals have met for the Broadmoor Trophy.

That fact is especially poignant for the Tigers, who have never won the trophy since its designation in 1985 as the symbol of the WCHA playoff championship.

When you consider that the trophy is named for a college hockey landmark in CC’s hometown of Colorado Springs — the Broadmoor Hotel and Resort Complex, which hosted the first several NCAA championships — you can see why the championship might mean even more this year.

Brett Sterling's pair of goals Friday helped make a CC-DU title game a reality (photo: Jason Waldowski).

Brett Sterling’s pair of goals Friday helped make a CC-DU title game a reality (photo: Jason Waldowski).

“We’re playing for the Broadmoor [Trophy],” said Tigers head coach Scott Owens. “We’ve never won the Broadmoor [Trophy]. It’s named after the hotel in Colorado Springs, and it’s two Colorado teams, so I think it’s great.

“It’s a great storyline — maybe not here in Minneapolis, but in college hockey and the Front Range, it is.”

The Pioneers, by comparison, already have three Broadmoors for their mantel already, the most recent in 2002. Owens sees little to distinguish a favorite in Saturday’s game.

“They get a few extra hours of rest, but other than that I think it’s pretty much a tossup game,” he said, referring to the Pioneers’ appearance in Friday’s early semifinal. “We’re playing on their size sheet — that’s maybe a little advantage for them, but we’ve played pretty well on the NHL-sized sheet.”

Big games between these two programs are, of course, nothing new, but Owens owns that topping his team’s archrival for the WCHA championship would add a certain savor to the title.

“It would be sweeter,” he agreed “The Denver rivalry has been built up so much at so many different times, and it’s something that we deal with all the time. It’s almost becoming to the point now we’re playing so many big games against each other, it’s hard to outdo the last one.”

With the distance separating Denver from Colorado Springs (a modest 70 miles) and the frequency of their interaction on the ice, you might think that the Pioneers and Tigers would be historically well-acquainted, if not exactly pals. You would be wrong, though Owens says that seems to be changing.

“I think we’re getting to know them well,” Owens said. “The players are interacting a little more, the staffs are. We’ve always known each other but we generally haven’t interacted that much.”

There will be a golden opportunity to enhance that acquaintance on the way back to the Rockies. Both teams, you see, are scheduled to return on the same charter flight out of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

The teams rode in together as well, apparently without incident — but that was before getting to spend a couple of pleasant hours together on the ice at the Xcel Center Saturday.

Said Brett Sterling, who scored twice against Minnesota Friday to help put CC in the title game, “The flight back might be a little more interesting than when we came out.”

Todd D. Milewski and Tim Brule contributed to this report.