Colorado College history
When it comes to college hockey, Colorado College may not be the first name that comes to mind. While it may not have the same level of recognition as some of the powerhouse hockey programs in the United States, the Colorado College Tigers have a rich history of upsets and wins that have left a lasting mark on the college hockey world. From iconic coaches to unforgettable games, let’s take a trip down memory lane and explore some of the most memorable moments in Colorado College history.
The Rise of Colorado College Hockey
Before diving into some of the most historic upsets and wins, it’s important to understand the foundation that was laid for Colorado College hockey. The program began in 1938 and quickly gained a reputation for producing talented players, thanks to the leadership of iconic coach Cheddy Thompson who led the team for 22 years. While the team encountered some challenges in the early years, it wasn’t long before they became a dominant force in the college hockey world.
Thompson’s Legacy and the Start of an Era
One of the most notable moments in Colorado College history is the era of coach Cheddy Thompson. He led the team to six NCAA appearances and helped the Tigers become the very first team in NCAA history to win consecutive national titles in 1950 and 1951. Under his guidance, several players who went on to play in the NHL were developed, including Hockey Hall of Famer Harry Watson.
Thompson’s legacy also includes the addition of the famous Colorado College bone logo, which continues to be a source of pride for the team to this day. While Thompson’s tenure at Colorado College may have ended in 1958, his impact on the program is still felt today and is a major reason for the team’s continued success.
The Barry Brothers and the 1996 National Championship
Fast forward to 1996 and Colorado College finds themselves in the NCAA Championship game against the University of Michigan. In an intense back-and-forth game, future NHL stars and brothers Mark and Brian Barry led the Tigers to a 6-5 victory, bringing the program its first national title in 45 years. The Barry brothers went on to have successful hockey careers, with Mark going on to win a Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings in 1998.
This win not only solidified the Barry brothers’ place in Colorado College history, but it also put the program back on the map. It was a defining moment for the team and gave hope to the idea that small schools with talented players could compete with the traditional powerhouses in college hockey.
The Looming Presence of the Denver Pioneers
One of the biggest rivalries in college hockey is between Colorado College and the University of Denver. The two schools are only a short drive away from each other, making for an intense and passionate battle whenever they meet on the ice. While the rivalry may not date back as far as some others in college sports, it has become one of the most heated matchups in college hockey.
One of the most memorable games between Colorado College and Denver occurred in 2009. The Tigers, who were the underdogs, outplayed the Pioneers and went on to win the game 3-1. This upset not only added to the storied rivalry between the two teams, but it also showed that Colorado College was capable of taking down some of the biggest names in college hockey.
The Road to the Frozen Four and the Miracle on Ice
In 1996, Colorado College made history by becoming the first team to reach the Frozen Four without winning its conference tournament. Their journey to the NCAA Championship was an unforgettable one, including a thrilling overtime victory against the University of Michigan in the regional semifinal. While the team ultimately fell short in the national semifinal against the University of Vermont, the 1996 season will always hold a special place in Colorado College history.
The Miracle on Ice also has deep roots in Colorado College. The iconic 1980 U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team that achieved one of the greatest upsets in sports history was coached by former Colorado College player and coach Herb Brooks. His time at Colorado College was short, but the impact he made on the program and its players was immeasurable. His legacy continues to live on at the school, with the ice arena named after him and the annual Herb Brooks Award given to the top NCAA men’s hockey player in the nation.