by Mike Chambers
Game 1 belonged to Colorado College freshman goalie Richard Bachman from Highlands Ranch.
The star of the series finale was University of Denver center Tyler Ruegsegger from Lakewood.
The bottom line: The former Littleton youth-hockey teammates and childhood buddies represented more than two small independent schools in the 264th and 265th Gold Pan games that goes in the books as a series split.
They stood for the parents and coaches that allowed them to reach Division I stardom that previously was seldom seen by Colorado natives.
Ruegsegger overshadowed Bachman on Saturday, scoring and assisting on goals in a span of 47 seconds to help the third-ranked Pioneers beat the No. 4 Tigers 3-2 at Magness Arena.
"I guess it works out in the end," said Bachman, who made 28 saves to spearhead CC's 5-1 win on Friday in Colorado Springs. "We didn't have much time in the (handshake) line, but I'm sure I'll talk to him later in the week."
Bachman absorbed his first loss in Western Collegiate Hockey Association play, falling to 8-1 (8-2 overall). CC also saw its six-game unbeaten streak (4-0-2) against DU snapped, and its six-game winning streak overall. The Tigers (8-4, 8-2) remain atop the WCHA with 16 points.
DU (9-3, 6-2) was thankful to finally have solved its rival for the first time in two years.
"Going into this game, the only statistic that mattered was the one that was 0-4-2," DU coach George Gwozdecky said. "We needed to do something to change that. We did enough."
Senior Peter Mannino (20 saves) was terrific after allowing a power-play goal 1:11 into the game, and Rhett Rakhshani and Tom May scored the second and third goals to put the Pioneers ahead 3-1.
CC junior Eric Walsky solved Mannino with 44 seconds to play, but Ruegsegger made two ensuing clears, including clanking a shot off the right post with Bachman on the bench for a sixth attacker.
"Both games were good games, and lived up to the billing of the No. 3 and No. 4 teams in the country," CC coach Scott Owens said. "(Friday) night we got some bounces. Tonight they might have got some bounces. We didn't play poorly, but not good enough to win on the road."
DU trailed 1-0 until Ruegsegger's rebound goal with 1:52 to play in the second period. It came during a delayed penalty, and after defenseman Patrick Mullen banged a one-timer off Bachman's pads.
"We needed a goal — bad," Ruegsegger said. "He's a great goalie, but we knew we just had to keep pressing. And it paid off with an open net off a rebound. It got our team going."
Soon after, Ruegsegger was against the dasher boards and sent a pass to the crease, where Rakhshani tapped the puck in off his backhand for a 2-1 lead.