While the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs won the 2011 NCAA Men's Hockey Tournament on Saturday night, we should not forget that three schools in Colorado played important roles in determining the championship.
While none of the three teams entered as a No. 1 seed, the Denver Pioneers were the highest at No. 2 in the Midwest Region and drew the No. 3 Western Michigan Broncos in the opening round. The Air Force Falcons were the No. 4 team in the East Region and had to face the No. 1 overall seed Yale Bulldogs in the opening round. In the West Region, the Colorado College Tigers faced the No. 1 Boston College Eagles, the 2010 NCAA Hockey Tournament champions.
The Air Force Falcons played Yale tough and took the game to overtime, losing 2-1. Ultimately, though, Yale was stopped in the second round when they lost to eventual tournament-winner Minnesota-Duluth, 5-3. Colorado College likely had the most surprising upset in the first round when the Tigers sent the Eagles home on an 8-4 score. The Denver Pioneers needed two overtime periods, but in the end they defeated Western Michigan, 3-2.
Colorado College faced 2011 tournament runner-up Michigan in the second round, but fell, 2-1, to miss out on a trip to the Frozen Four in Minnesota. Denver had a rematch with North Dakota, having lost to the Fighting Sioux in double overtime for the WCHA tournament championship the previous weekend. It wasn't anywhere close to that game, as UND sent the Pioneers home in a 6-1 victory.
Despite the early exits by all three teams, 2011 was still a strong showing for college hockey in Colorado.