Colorado College freshman defenseman Bryan Yoon grew up outside of Denver in Parker, but didn't follow college hockey until about 14. He's picked up a bit about the CC-DU rivalry since then.
"I know it's more than just the players," Yoon said. "It's just a big game."
Even bigger for the slumping Tigers. This Gold Pan battle wasn't supposed to look like this.
The Tigers ended a 14-game losing streak in the season series in 2017-18 and put back-to-back wins against DU in the ledger. But the Gold Pan trophy remained with the Pioneers.
Colorado College is coming off a year of improvement and looking to take the next step, having lost no one to graduation. Denver lost many big names — and a successful head coach — to the pros. The footing might have been more even for the in-state rivals.
The Pioneers, picked to finish fifth in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference — one spot above CC — reloaded immediately, and are ranked third in the country. Their freshmen have come on strong, and both underclass goaltenders rank in the top 20 in the nation in goals-against average and save percentage. They've won seven straight.
Meanwhile, CC's promising start has derailed and they enter the first half of the Denver season series having lost six of their past seven, with a major player recently lost for the season to boot.
No time like the present to get back on track.
"These are weekends that can maybe change the momentum back your way," coach Mike Haviland said.
The Pioneers have a lot of accomplishments Colorado College can shoot for. They have excelled in close games. They have played past regulation an NCHC-high seven times, and are 4-1-2 there.
Colorado College is 3-6 in one-goal games. Two overtime games netted no conference points last weekend against North Dakota.
"I was proud of the way we played there, but there's nothing to show for it," Haviland said. "The message is it's not good enough."
The story sounds the same as it has recently — Denver soaring, CC looking for a boost. But opportunity exists against the Pioneers.
Yoon said the Tigers are ready, and excited.
He once attended a CC-DU game in the stands. This will be a very different perspective, and he'll have a lot more to do to help the Tigers get back in the win column.
"I'm just really looking forward to it," he said.
This article is written by Kate Shefte from The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.