The Colorado College Athletics Department—along with the University of Denver Athletics Department, the Colorado Rockies Baseball Club and, and National Collegiate Hockey Conference—has announced that next season’s Pioneers-Tigers hockey game scheduled for Feb. 20, 2016, will be played at Coors Field in downtown Denver.
The matchup, dubbed the ‘Battle on Blake’, will be the first collegiate hockey game ever played at Coors Field.
“I’m thrilled that our students will be able to experience the excitement of an outdoor game,” said Colorado College Athletic Director Ken Ralph. “To play our longstanding rival in a world class facility such as Coors Field is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
The game at Coors Field will add a new dimension to the Tigers’ storied rivalry with the Pioneers, as it marks the first time that CC and DU have faced off in an outdoor match. The CC-DU rivalry dates back to 1950, with the Tigers having gone 116-165-17 in 298 all-time meetings with the Pioneers. While DU recovered the Gold Pan in the teams’ four-game season series this past season, CC will no doubt look to reclaim it on February 20th.
“We share a good, healthy rivalry with DU,” said assistant coach RJ Enga. “We always play highly competitive games, and the attention already being put on this game will up the stakes even more.”
“It’s pretty special that we have the opportunity to play one of the biggest games in our school’s history against our biggest rivals,” said junior forward Hunter Fejes. “We’re always amped to play DU, and they are projecting a huge crowd for this game, which will only add fuel to our fire.”
Ralph shared that CC’s program has been researching the possibility of an outdoor hockey game for several years. “By partnering with the Colorado Rockies and the NHL we were finally able to make it happen,” Ralph said. “There is still a lot of hard work and preparation to go before we play the game but it will all be worth it.”
So what is the appeal of an outdoor game? Well for starters, “Most of us learned to skate on outdoor ponds so this bring us back to the roots of the sport,” explained Fejes. “As a kid, every day you’d get out of school, grab your skates and go to the rink to play with your buddies. Once players get to the collegiate level, not many get a chance to play an outdoor game… It will definitely be a day to remember.”
Furthermore, as opposed to the sometimes too-comfortable settings that players and fans enjoy in modern hockey rinks, being outdoors with the sun, wind and possible precipitation allows for some variables that don’t occur indoors. “Being out in the elements, in a beautiful facility, with thousands of cheering fans will prove a much different experience than a normal indoor hockey game,” promised Ralph. More information on the ‘Battle on Blake’, including ticketing info, will be announced at a later date.