November 9, 2023 | SPORTS | By Veronica Bianco
The Colorado College Tigers headed north Friday night to face the No. 2 University of Denver Pioneers in front of a record crowd of over 7,000 fans at Magness Arena in this year’s edition of the historic Gold Pan series. Their Friday meeting was the 338th between the two teams, making it the most-played matchup in collegiate hockey history. The University of Michigan and Michigan State University have met 337 times.
Denver needed a series split to retain the Gold Pan Trophy, which they’ve taken home 15 times compared to the Tigers’ 13.
Colorado College was looking to open conference play with a win after a disappointing 4-3 loss to Augustana University the previous weekend at Ed Robson Arena, their first defeat of the season after five straight wins.
Fans and players observed a moment of silence before the puck drop in honor of the late Adam Johnson, a former National Collegiate Hockey Conference player who died last week in a freak accident during a professional game in England.
Evan Werner ’27 silenced Denver’s rowdy crowd just 6:09 into the first period with his team-high fourth goal of the season off a pass from Gleb Veremyev ’26. Connor Mayer ’23 recorded the secondary assist on the play, finding Veremyev from deep inside CC’s end.
Neither side found the back of the net for the rest of the period as goalkeepers Kaiden Mbereko ’26 (CC) and Freddie Halyk stonewalled any offensive efforts. Mbereko, from Aspen, Colo. shined for the Tigers, making 39 saves on the night. Tigers Head Coach Kris Mayotte highlighted his netminder’s stellar performance in post-match comments, saying, “Kaiden was phenomenal, and we still gave up six.”
Denver came out with renewed energy in the second period and put the Tigers on their heels for essentially the rest of the game, scoring six unanswered goals to steal the lead and retain it. The equalizer came 4:56 into the second period as Denver’s Shai Buium netted his second goal of the season.
The Pioneers ran away with it from there, scoring twice in the next five minutes, including a shorthanded goal. They outshot the Tigers 48-20, with multiple players taking five or more shots.
Denver remained strong in the third period, putting another two goals past Mbereko and one past substitute goaltender Henry Wilder ’25, who made three saves in the final 10 minutes.
Mayotte says winning comes down to his team’s mindset and desire to put up a fight.
“They have to decide that they’re going to be a team that’s tough to play against,” he said.
It wasn’t hard to tell that there’s a storied history between the two sides. The game was chippy; Veremyev and Denver’s Garett Brown found themselves in the penalty box for the final ten minutes of regulation after picking up misconduct penalties.
Drew Montogmery ’27 led the Tigers in shots with three.
The Tigers returned to Robson Arena on Saturday to face the Pioneers again. They’ll look to end their three-game losing streak and improve their conference record on the road next weekend at Miami University in Oxford Ohio.