COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO. — Grant Cruikshank scored 1:45 into the game and Alex Leclerc made sure the goal held up as Colorado College upset sixth-ranked Denver, 1-0, Saturday night at the Broadmoor World Arena to win The Gold Pan for the first time since 2014.
Leclerc made 30 saves for his second shutout of the season and the eighth of his career. He allowed just one goal to the Pioneers during the weekend as CC needed a sweep to even The Gold Pan series with its northern neighbors at 13 apiece.
The Tigers last won The Gold Pan in 2014 using a similar method, sweeping Denver in a home-and-home series towards the end of the season. The eight Colorado College seniors on this year’s roster, who were honored in a pre-game ceremony, had never seen the trophy in person.
“It showed who they really are,” head coach Mike Haviland said. “Those first two years were lean years and no one forgets. This is a big thing for our entire program, our alums and the fans. It was unbelievable to see (the seniors raise the trophy). We battled, scratched and clawed. They deserved it.”
Coupled with Western Michigan’s sweep at Miami this weekend, the sixth-place Tigers will travel to Kalamazoo, Mich., to face the Broncos, who jumped into third place in the final NCHC standings, in a best two-of-three first round of the league playoffs.
Cruikshank scored his 11th goal of the season after Trevor Gooch came out from behind the net and sent the puck across the crease. Cruikshank was there on the opposite side and hit the open net past Denver goalie Devin Cooley.
Neither team officially scored in the second period, however, DU’s Colin Staub put the puck in the net with 14:07 remaining in the frame, but it was immediately waved off by the referee and upheld after a review for hitting it in with his hand.
Denver picked up the pressure in the third period and kept the puck in the CC end for a good chunk of the final 20 minutes. Leclerc made 12 saves and the Tigers recorded nine of their 22 blocked shots in the third period.
Jarid Lukosevicius came the closest to scoring in the final frame when he deflected a shot off the post, then his own rebound was saved by Leclerc with eight minutes remaining. The Tigers then survived the final 1:58 with Cooley on the bench in favor of an extra skater.
“Oh man, I just kept looking at the clock every time they had the puck waiting for it to count down,” Gooch said. “The last 25 seconds seemed like it was 10 minutes long. But we found a way to get it done.”
“Once we went up 1-0, we weren’t going to give the lead up, not the way we have been playing.”