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DU-Colorado College rivalry one of nation’s oldest

Loyalty. Pride. Tradition. Add a heaping helping of mutual dislike and you have the recipe for a delicious college rivalry. The longstanding rivalry between the DU Pioneers and the Colorado College (CC) Tigers is based more on what the two schools have in common: “Both are private institutions in an area without a lot of college hockey,” says Pioneers Head Coach George Gwozdecky.

“Historically, DU dominated the hockey scene,” he notes. “However, we’ve seen CC grow increasingly competitive, which only ups the level of excitement.”

The Pioneers have clashed with CC 245 times since 1949, winning 142 games, losing 95 and tying eight. In 1991, the Golden Pan was introduced to the competition; the authentic mining utenstil is awarded to the team that wins the seasonal showdown.

While the Pioneers are playing to win, it’s the fans that often put on the show. Infamous gags include flying chickens (thrown during foul calls), mice, cowbells and the occasional octopus on ice.

“In the old days, the [fieldhouse] had a very collegiate feel. The students sat in the balcony, which literally hung directly over the ice,” recalls former hockey player and coach Ron Grahame, BA ’73, who now is associate athletic director of Intercollegiate Sports Programs at DU. “This close proximity made it easy for just about anything to end up on the ice. You name it, I’ve seen it.”

“There was the young lady who chose to moon us during the game,” adds Jim Calvert, BSBA ’94, MBA ’97. “But hey, that’s just the average CC fan.”

Many fans lament that such high jinx are a thing of the past, due primarily to new Western Collegiate Hockey Association rules. If a fan throws anything onto the ice, his or her team receives a penalty.

Still, rowdy is in abundance at DU/CC games. “We love the energy here at DU. It’s a very aggressive and hostile crowd,” says Holly Smith, who sported a CC jersey at the Nov. 8 game in Magness Arena. “It’s so fun!”

Decked out in crimson and gold scarves, first-year students Lindsay Griffin and Dana Hestmark added their voices to the “Let’s go DU!” thunder. According to Griffin, “When you go to DU, you have to go to the CC game. It is the one thing you cannot miss.”

Fan Dave Bosch is not affiliated with either school but attended his first DU v. CC game when he was just 6 months old. His family has held Pioneers tickets for more than 50 years. “I would never miss this game,” he says.

In 1997, DU’s beloved old Fieldhouse (“The Barn”) was demolished, and DU hockey made a permanent move to Magness Arena in 1999. The same year, CC’s games moved from the Broadmoor to the World Arena. Both changes had a distinct impact on the atmosphere of the games.

“The games were wilder in the ’60s and ’70s,” recalls Annie Hoskinson, BA ’75, MBA ’89, DU’s director of athletic development. “DU’s old barn had a wonderful feel. It basically oozed history.”

Thirty years later, the DU v. CC game remains a hot ticket. In November, the sold-out Magness Arena was awash in Pioneers crimson. Students rhythmically clacked “thunder sticks,” chanting, “CC sucks! CC sucks!”

“We have a lot of alumni who have remained in the state, which just adds fuel to the fire,” Gwozdecky says. “This is one of the best rivalries in college hockey.”

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