by David Ramsey
The gift was right there. CC's Scott McCulloch left the puck for Chad Rau directly in front of Denver's net.
Everything was set. A game-clinching goal. A massive victory over a despised opponent. It was just Rau and goalkeeper Marc Cheverie.
But Rau couldn't deliver for Colorado College. Cheverie snuffed his shot with 4 1/2 minutes left, and DU sneaked back for a 3-3 tie, leaving a packed house at World Arena depressed and confused.
I keep waiting for the Tigers to awaken. CC is packed with promise, but it's getting late - very late - and this team might never keep its promises.
The tie shouldn't come as a surprise. CC suffers from two rather huge problems.
The Tigers can't win on Friday nights. The Tigers have won once - count 'em - in their past 14 Friday night games.
And they can't hold leads. The Tigers led 3-1 on Friday, inspiring joy and hope at World Arena. A big revival seemed possible.
But they couldn't hang on. The Pioneers kept pushing, kept battling and finally caught the Tigers.
Ties are never thrilling, but this tie was devastating.
"Oh, I wouldn't say devastating," said CC goalkeeper Richard Bachman, who played a superb game. "It's still a point, and it's better than none. It's not a loss."
Hate to disagree, Richard, but the Tigers didn't need a tie. The Tigers have won only six of their past 17 games. They required a victory.
Fans weren't fooled. As the game ended, CC's Jake Gannon skated around the ice holding the Gold Pan Trophy over his head.
The Gold Pan serves as the symbol of supremacy in a great college hockey rivalry.
But there was little thrill in retaining the trophy. Only a few dozen fans applauded as Gannon held the trophy high above his head.
Meanwhile, hundreds of disgruntled CC fans ignored the festivities as they trudged up the stairs toward the parking lot.
Give CC coach Scott Owens credit. He declined to con anyone after the game. He didn't try to put a happy face on the tie.
Sure, his Tigers retained the Gold Pan, but it was clear Owens wanted more.
He knows the Gold Pan is a "big deal" but he also knows it was a tough, disappointing night for his team.
"It was a very average feeling, to be honest with you," Owens said. "...It's a strange deal. You get a tie. You get the Gold Pan, but it feels like a loss."
A loss. That's exactly right.