Rivalry Revisited: Denver – a Historical Perspective on Their Most Important Matchups

Denver Pioneers

The world of sports is filled with intense rivalries that captivate fans and add an extra layer of excitement to every game. In the world of hockey, one of the biggest and most historic rivalries is between the University of Denver Pioneers and their neighbor, Colorado College. Situated only a few miles apart, these two schools have been competing against each other for over a century, making their matchups some of the most highly anticipated and intense games in all of college hockey.

The heated rivalry between Denver and Colorado College has a long and storied history that dates back to 1950 when the two teams first met on the ice. Known as the Battle for the Gold Pan, the competition for the coveted trophy has become a tradition in the state of Colorado. The Gold Pan was first awarded in 1993 to the winner of the regular-season series between Denver and Colorado College. Since then, the gold-plated frying pan has become a symbol of the intense rivalry between these two teams.

Over the years, the Denver Pioneers and Colorado College Tigers have faced off against each other in over 280 games, making it one of the most played rivalries in college hockey. However, it’s not just the quantity of games that makes this rivalry so important – it’s the quality. The Pioneers and the Tigers have fought tooth and nail against each other in some of the most thrilling and memorable games in college hockey history.

One of the most iconic moments in this rivalry came in 2005 when Denver and Colorado College met in the NCAA Frozen Four. The Pioneers were ranked number one in the nation, while the Tigers were ranked number two. In a showdown for the ages, Denver emerged victorious with a 6-2 win, cementing their place in Frozen Four history. This game not only solidified the Denver-Colorado College rivalry but also put the Pioneers on the map as one of the top teams in college hockey.

But this rivalry is not just about the high-stakes games or the battle for the Gold Pan. It’s about the fierce passion and intense pride that fans of both teams bring to the rink. Students and alumni from both schools pack the stands, creating an electrifying atmosphere that adds an extra layer of excitement to the game. This fierce competition has been passed down from generation to generation, making the Denver-Colorado College rivalry a part of the culture of both schools.

In addition to their intense rivalry with Colorado College, the University of Denver Pioneers have also had their share of intense matchups with other top teams in college hockey. One of their most notable rivals is the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks. The two teams have met in crucial games throughout the years, with several of them being for the National Championship. In fact, Denver and North Dakota have faced each other six times in the Frozen Four, with the Pioneers winning four of those matchups. It’s a testament to the strength and competitiveness of both teams, making their rivalry one of the most thrilling in all of college sports.

Another key matchup for the Pioneers has been with the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers. Denver and Minnesota have a long and storied history, with both teams having won multiple National Championships. These two teams have faced off against each other in regular-season games, as well as in important postseason matchups, with Denver emerging as the victor more often than not. The intense competition and history between these two powerhouse teams have solidified their rivalry as one of the most important in college hockey.

As we look back at the history of the University of Denver Pioneers and their most important matchups, it’s clear that their rivalry with Colorado College is a cornerstone of college hockey. But it’s not just about the games themselves, it’s about the fierce passion and unwavering pride that both teams and their fans bring to every matchup. The intensity and tradition of this rivalry have placed Denver hockey on the map as a force to be reckoned with, and their matchups with other top teams have only solidified their place as a dominant force in college hockey.


Denver Pioneers,

Colorado College Tigers,

NCAA Frozen Four