At 5:15 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 21, a group of CC Tiger Hockey super fans loaded on the community bus to Denver, hopeful and nervous, to watch the Tigers score a win against long-time rivals, the Denver University Pioneers. After battling a traffic nightmare, they finally made it to enemy territory in the Magness Arena.
Sporting black and gold in a sea of red, they made thier way to the seats, which were surrounded by a surprisingly large number of CC fans. The critical game began, and the mood was optimistic within the small squadron of Tiger fans.
CC fans watched as nine different players – including goal scorers Jared Hanson, Cody Bradely, and Christian Heil – scored points on the nationally televised opener of the series against Denver University.
The small fan base went wild as sophomore wingman Hanson brought the visitors up 1-0 at 10:06 in the first period, assisted by forward Archi Skalbeck and captain Eammon McDermott. The Tigers stood their ground to shut out three DU power plays before Quentin Shore of the Pioneers scored a left-sided angle quick shot at 4:09 in the second period.
Late in the second period, one move by the Pioneers became the moment that Tiger fans had been waiting for. Denver was hit with a well-des
erved five-minute major penalty, and freshman defenseman Jaccob Slavin set up Cody Bradley’s power-play goal at 18:33 to push the Tigers ahead.
At 7:37 of the third period, Christian Heil made CC proud with his first collegiate goal, a beautiful crease shot, assisted by senior left wing Alexander Krushelnyski, with his 99th point, moving the score along to 3-1. A late power play goal in the third period by DU made the fans in the stands anxious, and upped the ante for the remainder of the game. The last four minutes were a mix of emotions, as both sides crossed their fingers.
gness Arena, pushing past the embarrassed faces of Pioneers fans. Back on the bus, celebratory chants could’ve been heard from far away. Once set back on the way to Colorado Springs, the victory had settled in, and Friday’s goal had come to fruition: CC had a chance to win back the Gold Pan for the 12th time in 21 years!When the buzzer finally went off with a score of 3-2 CC,
CC fans went wild. Tiger fans, with huge smiles and all, strutted proudly out of Ma
Super fan extraordinaire Sergio Portesan said, “I was really excited to leave Denver with the win, and I was cautiously optimistic for Saturday. I knew that the team wanted it, and I was hoping that they would keep skating hard and bring the Gold Pan home on Saturday.”
His mood seemed to be the consensus, and CC fans could not wait to see the Tigers back in action the next night. The Gold Pan was on the line.
A sold-out World
Arena of over 7,000 fans and a packed student section welcomed the Tigers into the all-important second game of the series. This one was for Scott Winkler, and at the sound of the final buzzer, the victory over the Pioneers was dedicated to Winkler, the former Tigers player who died last summer of an undiagnosed heart condition. On what would have been his 24t
h birthday, the Tigers played an impressive game of hockey.
CC freshman Ale
x Roos performed well under pressure in one of the most exciting moments of the game. Roos was able to backhand the puck past DU Goalie Sam Brittain, who was preoccupied under a pile of hockey players in front of the net late in the third period Saturday night.
“Tonight was a special night,” said senior left wing Alexander Krushelnyski for the CC Athletic’s website, whose long shot into DU’s em
pty net with 45.5 seconds left secured the victory. “Obviously it’s all smiles right now, so surreal, just soaking it all in. It’s my last year here, and I’m enjoying it. Nothing makes me happier than to bring the Gold Pan back.”
Krushelnyski earned his 100th career point and flung the crowd of Tiger fans into elation just 5:30 after freshman winger Alex Roos’ astounding shot.
“It was an incredib
le team win this weekend,” Krushelnyski continued. “The guys played phenomenally. It was Winks’ birthday today, which makes it even sweeter. It’s just all smiles right now. It’s all smiles.”
Freshman Jaccob Slavin also assisted in the set up of a goal by Aaron Harstad, while senior defenseman Eamonn McDermott and sophomore center Cody Bradley earned assists on the Roos goal. DU goalie Sam Brittain earned 33 saves in the Pioneers net, while CC goalie Josh Thorimbert finished with 25 saves for the Tigers.