November 1, 2008 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Diary of a Rivalry

by Avash Kalra/Staff Writer

7:28 p.m. MT: Welcome to a running diary of tonight's game between host Denver and Colorado College, the 268th meeting between these two storied programs. I may be 1200 miles away from the game, but that shouldn't matter thanks to a comfortable couch and Fox Sports Net Rocky Mountain. And of course, all time stamps for this diary are Mountain time instead of Eastern time so as to avoid allegations of an east coast bias.

7:30 p.m.: Amazing. In the 30 second montage intro to the game, the voice-over managed a possible record 10 separate Halloween puns — "house of horrors," "frightful offense," etc. That's one pun every three seconds, which is both impressive and admirable. ... Now, I hope they don't get carried away by introducing sideline reporter Alanna Rizzo as "pumpkin."

7:32 p.m.: This is a big matchup for lots of reasons. Certainly, if a team manages to sweep this weekend, it stakes claim to the title of top team in the country, at least at this early point of the season. Still, despite a combined record of 8-1-2, the Pioneers and Tigers enter this game after not winning their respective previous games. CC tied Clarkson (twice, in fact) last weekend in Potsdam, N.Y., while Denver stumbled against Ohio State in the second game of their weekend series.

7:36 p.m.: Also on the line is the "gold pan" — which traditionally goes to the winner of the season series between these two schools. Not the coolest-sounding trophy, but it's a big deal out there (allegedly). And almost on cue, we have a sideline report that informs us that, should the teams split the season series, the pan stays with the team already possessing it. That would be CC in this case, which has won the pan the last two seasons and is 6-2-2 against Denver in their last 10 matchups.

7:41 p.m.: Cody Brookwell is on the ice for Denver, playing in his third game this season. Brookwell was suspended for the first four games of the season but should be a welcome return to the Denver defense.

7:42 p.m.: Nice goaltending matchup in this game too. CC's Richard Bachman, now a sophomore, proved himself last year and then some. His efforts earned him awards for WCHA Player of the Year, WCHA Rookie of the Year, First-Team All-American, and National Rookie of the Year. His counterpart this weekend is Marc Cheverie for Denver, also a sophomore ... but now the No. 1 goaltender for the Pioneers following the graduation of 2-time national champion Peter Mannino.

7:45 p.m.: I can't help but notice this every time I see Denver on television, but Magness Arena always seems to have poor lighting on the ice. Are all the lights on? I'd imagine it's different there in person (I would hope), but it's noticeably darker as I compare the lighting to the other games on TV right now, Minnesota-Minnesota State and North Dakota-Wisconsin.

7:47 p.m.: Colorado College's Brian Connelly just scored a power-play goal as the Tigers go up 1-0. Extremely impressive power play, with lots of puck movement. Connelly now leads the Tigers defense in point scoring with five.

7:51 p.m.: Lots of camera shots of CC coach Scott Owens and Denver coach George Gwozdecky. And the verdict is: George's suit/tie combination is better. In fact, I'm not sure if anything Owens is wearing matches. But that's all right, given the day.

7:56 p.m.: CC and Denver are only about an hour's drive from each other on I-25, so this is a true rivalry borne out of proximity. A quick count on CHN's roster pages finds that Denver's roster features seven Colorado-bred players (including junior assistant captain and Toronto Maple Leafs draft pick Tyler Ruegsegger), while CC's roster includes only two players who call Colorado their home state.

7:58 p.m.: We learn that the only other person (aside from Bachman) to win both WCHA Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year in the same season was established NHL netminder Curtis Joseph, who accomplished the feat in the 1988-89 season with Wisconsin (I think we've mentioned that on CHN about a hundred times. ed.).

8:03 p.m.: With Denver on a 5-on-3 advantage, Bachman just made a series of stunning saves, some with his pads, one with his blocker, one with a quick glove hand. If CC is to ever break its national championship drought (1957), this guy might be the key to it all.

8:06 p.m.: Scores from elsewhere around the country are starting to roll in. Michigan topped Ohio State 4-3. I guess the Wolverines might as well beat the Buckeyes now, since it's not going to happen when their football teams clash on Nov. 12 in Columbus.

8:10 p.m.: There's an advertisement on the boards near Denver's bench, and I'm trying to get a look at the company's name. The slogan has been visible a few times — "Real people. Real answers. Real quick." I wonder how long the board room meeting was when they came up with that one. 8 seconds?

8:11 p.m.: Announcers Dan Kelly and Charlie Host just started talking about the Colorado natives on the teams. If only they knew I'm 15 minutes ahead of them.

8:14 p.m.: They then point out that "there's more to play for than just the gold pan." The gold pan should be enough!!

8:15 p.m.: Great save by Cheverie on CC's Tyler Johnson as time expired in the first period. A goal there would have been a downer for the Pioneers. Anyhow, the first intermission is here, and I'm headed to the concessions — uh, refrigerator.

8:30 p.m.: Second period about to get under way. We learn that Bachman stopped all 16 Denver shots in the first stanza; last weekend, he stopped 62 of 65 shots in the Tigers' two ties at Clarkson.

8:31 p.m.: First, on the east coast, it's 10:31 on 10/31. Just wanted to point that out. Second, as someone who was introduced to college hockey by visiting ECAC rinks, I'm always amazed by how the WCHA rinks look like NHL teams play there.

8:41 p.m.: Hmm, probably low on the list of potential storylines for this game would be whether CC forward Addison DeBoer, a CC junior, would match his goal total from last year (he had one). Well, the junior flipped a backhand from the left of Cheverie that fluttered into the net, appearing to surprise the goaltender. The Tigers now lead 2-0, and that might be enough for Bachman, the way he's playing.

8:44 p.m.: Is there a robust study to see how often a team takes a penalty in the shift after scoring a goal? Anecdotally, it seems to happen a statistically significant amount of the time.

8:48 p.m.: Denver solves Bachman finally, as Tyler Bozak threw the puck to the front of the net, where Rhett Rakhshani deflected it in. The fans have been pretty out of it so far, so perhaps this will get them going.

8:53 p.m.: The mother of J.P. and Mike Testwuide is wearing a sweatshirt that's half-CC, half-Denver, as J.P. is a senior defenseman for Denver, while Mike is a junior forward for CC. It's a Niedermayer-esque story, except this time the mom isn't picking a side. And so she says she's a "schizophrenic hockey mom" for Halloween. Hey, she could run for VP!

8:57 p.m.: Just a reminder that Denver's school name is the University of Denver... but they commonly go by the abbreviation "DU." And not "UD." Is there an explanation for this? (Please deluge Avash with answers, not CHN's already overwhelmed editor. ed.)

9:01 p.m.: I was starting to wonder when this game would become genuinely exciting (it is a rivalry game, after all). Well, it's end-to-end action and excitement now. Which means I don't have to watch VH1's Best Week Ever after all.

9:10 p.m.: We're at the intermission now, and as I check scores from elsewhere, I see that Wisconsin fell to North Dakota. The Badgers are now 0-6-1 this season. Ouch. And as a Cincinnati Bengals (0-8) fan, I feel their pain. The difference? Wisconsin will eventually win a game this season.

9:24 p.m.: Tie game! About 30 seconds into the third period, a muffed hand-off (sorry, I'm still thinking football) between Bachman and Brian Connelly — who scored the first goal of the night for the Tigers — led to a steal by Tyler Bozak, who threw it to a streaking Luke Salazar in front. Nice play by Bozak, who just appeared to want to get to the puck more than Connelly did. By the way, Bozak was a preseason selection for the All-CHN Second Team, and this is why.

9:28 p.m.: Bachman's glove, of all things, flies off as he tries to make a save on a rising shot from the blueline. He then played without a glove for a few seconds before he was able to gather it. Not sure if I've seen that before.

9:37 p.m.: Oh my. With Denver on the power play halfway through the third period, Rakhshani had a wide open net and somehow Bachman reached back with his glove to stop the puck. I'm trying to think of an analogy to describe how open the net was, but it would be like throwing a baseball into soccer goal when you're standing five feet in front of it ... and somehow missing.

9:42 p.m.: Penalties are not created equally, no matter what they say. It's late in the third period of a tie game, and there are seemingly handfuls of infractions going uncalled when plenty of stuff was whistled earlier in the game.

9:47 p.m.: Denver's Cheverie makes a point-blank glove save on a 4-on-2 rush for CC. Pretty big save with just under 6 minutes to go in the third period now. Remember, Cheverie is making his first career appearance against the Tigers.

9:49 p.m.: "Are we going to see overtime or is someone going to score?" asks Dan Kelly. "I don't know. It's hard to say," predicts Charlie Host. That's going out on a limb right there. (I should mention now that this announcing duo is actually pretty good, but I have to make fun of someone).

9:56 p.m.: As we appear headed for overtime, the last few minutes have felt like a playoff game. Lots of chances at both ends, and the story is the dueling netminders.

9:59 p.m.: The players gather at their benches to prepare for up to five more minutes of action, as 60 minutes weren't enough to settle this one. And as I wait for the extra session, I'm pondering what would be the college hockey equivalent matchup of the Phillies-Rays World Series. I'll say CC-Yale for the national title.

10:04 p.m.: Overtime is underway, but neither team appears to be "going for it" at the moment. I'm beginning to think this won't be settled until further down the road (literally). Sunday evening, the two teams resume the weekend series at CC's World Arena in nearby Colorado Springs.

10:12 p.m.: Well it's all over at Magness Arena, as the Pioneers and Tigers finish tied 2-2. Entertaining game, with Bachman the clear No. 1 star with 44 saves, including a memorable pad stop in the final minute. Unbeaten CC finishes with its third consecutive tie, while Denver should feel pretty pleased with itself after coming back from a 2-0 deficit. And as I wrap up the diary, here's what George Gwozdecky has to say to the FSN television crew:

"Obviously we wanted one more goal, and we gave ourselves a lot of chances. The last 30 minutes of the game, we had some great chances, and either we missed it or Bachman made some incredible saves. That's a great team we played against."

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