18 April 2019
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Standouts Denver University and Colorado College face-off

And commence ‘Gold Pan’

 

Leading up to this coming weekend, the two teams that comprise the Rocky Mountain rivalry that is the Gold Pan are situated in lofty positions.  The United States Collegiate rankings, released this week, placed Denver University #3 and Colorado College #4 nationally.  Couple that with the imminent home-and-home clash this Friday and Saturday night and we are set to see a classic early season match-up unfold.

 

The Denver University Pioneers have displayed their hallmark effort lately and it has pushed them up the polls with an 8-2 record overall. 

A shining example is senior netminder Peter Mannino’s outstanding statistics.  His 1.31 GAA, .949 save percentage and 2 shutouts have him near the top in the country in every category.   Mannino has added three assists as well.  The Pioneer defense is led by alternate captains Chris Butler, J.P. Testwuide and captain, Andrew Thomas.  Sophomore forwards Rhett Rakhshani, Brock Trotter and Tyler Ruegsegger spearhead an attack that has certainly come on in recent games.  The shorthanded goal scored last Saturday night by Ruegsegger on a pass under duress from gifted playmaker Trotter is on highlight reels across the continent.  Tyler Bozak is the preeminent of the 13 freshmen on the roster and is currently on a four game point-scoring streak in which he has tallied five goals and two assists, including a hat trick on November 4th at Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis against the Golden Gophers.

Head Coach George Gwozdecky, in his 14th campaign with Denver University, has brought this young team along during the year (+21 goals for/against) and special teams are blossoming.  The penalty-killing has not allowed a goal in the past six games, stifling the opponent on 25 chances.  The powerplay has emerged by scoring 5 goals in the past 19 chances, 26.3%

 

Colorado College came away with the Gold Pan last spring, though they can hardly boast about a 102-151-10 record all-time versus their arch-rivals.  This is a much older team, built to win now.  Starting 7-3 with a current 5 game win streak is good for first in the WCHA, edging out Denver in inter-conference play.

Goaltender Richard Bachman is the exception, astounding onlookers with the numbers to place him amid the league leaders.  As far as freshmen go, Bachman has resolve beyond what is expected with a 7-1 record, one shutout, 1.62 GAA and .947 save percentage giving his Tigers reliability between the pipes.

The defense is led by power play quarterback Jack Hillen, a senior with nine points.  Hillen is supported by the considerably big bodies of Kris Fredheim, Nate Prosser and Jake Gannon.  Chad Rau, a Toronto’s 228th pick in 2005, has proven to be a dynamic presence in every situation.  The junior centre from Eden Prairie, Minnesota has his share of points (11), is dangerous shorthanded (two goals), and on the power play (one goal).  He has yet to be assessed a penalty minute and is timely with three game-winning goals.  Sophomore Bill Sweatt, whose rights lay with the Chicago Blackhawks (2nd round, 38th overall), leads the team with 12 points.  Left-wing senior Scott McCulloch stands tied with Sweatt for the lead in power play markers with a couple each.  Californian sophomore Andreas Vlassopoulos has contributed with 10 points.

Head Coach Scott Owens, a Colorado College alumnus himself, is in the ninth year of his coaching tenure on the Colorado Springs campus.  Owens has ingrained a solid penalty-killing approach, dashing 45 of 50 attempts this season.  The Tigers have had production from their own power play unit, scoring on 9 of 44 (20.5%).  This may be distorted from the fact that they scored four of those goals in the first two games (exhibition) against Calgary and the U.S.-Under 18 Team.

 

An angle one must explore is the fact that two brothers will oppose each other for more than the last drumstick at the Thanksgiving feast this year.  Vail, Colorado natives Mike Testwuide (Sophomore-Tigers) and older brother J.P. (Junior-Pioneers) will confront each other on the ice and add intrigue to this college hockey rivalry.  With that and the coveted, Gold Pan in the back of their minds, the teams are liable to put on a timeless spectacle.

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