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Significance of Faceoff at Falcon Stadium not lost on players, coaches

By Joe Paisley, SportsEngine, 02/12/20, 9:15PM MST

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Colorado College plays crosstown rival Air Force for the Pikes Peak Trophy on Feb. 17 in what will be the first college outdoor hockey game for some.

There’s pond hockey, which includes horsing around with your friends. And then there’s outdoor hockey, the kind of competitive hockey played between rival teams and the kind fans will see on Presidents' Day when Colorado College takes crosstown rival Air Force in the Faceoff at Falcon Stadium.

Colorado College’s Josiah Slavin and Bryan Yoon are both keenly aware of the massive difference as they prepare to play their first outdoor college game. The matchup against Atlantic Hockey Conference member Air Force is Monday, Feb. 17 at 5:05 p.m. on a rink at the Air Force Academy’s football venue.

“Me and my buddies would occasionally go up to Evergreen Lake (Park) and play a little, but nothing like this,” said Yoon, a Parker native. “Playing on that big stage will make it that much more exciting.”

The spotlight is on both Division I college programs because of Saturday night’s NHL Stadium Series game between the Los Angeles Kings and Colorado Avalanche. It is typical for college and high school games to be held in conjunction with the outdoor NHL event.

“I never really doubted that it would happen,” said Air Force senior captain Brady Tomlak of Oakland, Michigan. “We were hearing it could be CC or Army. There’s a lot of history between our two teams with being in the same city. It’s always awesome to get a chance to play those guys.”

The outdoor game is a first for the Falcons (8-15-5) and the second for the Tigers (8-16-2).

“It’s definitely exciting to be playing a game outdoors at a high level,” said Slavin, an Erie native who last played a competitive game outdoors during the Quebec peewee tournament. “It’s going to be a once-in-a lifetime experience.”

“It’s definitely exciting to be playing a game outdoors at a high level ... It’s going to be a once-in-a lifetime experience.”

— Josiah Slavin,
Erie native and
Colorado College forward
who is playing in his
first outdoor college game

CC took on rival Denver in the Battle on Blake outdoor game before 35,000 fans at Coors Field on Feb. 20, 2016. None of the current Tigers played in that National Collegiate Hockey Conference game. Slavin and Yoon were away playing juniors then, but they have a grasp of the experience ahead.

“I heard from (last year’s seniors) what it was like and how it didn’t compare to any game they’d played before,” said Yoon, a sophomore defenseman. “It’s exciting, but we need to stay focused on Friday.

Air Force and CC open the home-and-home nonconference series Friday at the Broadmoor World Arena in southwest Colorado Springs. The game in Falcon Stadium, 8 miles to the north, will be the 78th meeting between the Falcons and Tigers. Air Force has won six of the last nine meetings with the Tigers claiming the Pikes Peak Trophy last year. This weekend’s results determine which team takes home the rivalry hardware.

“We’ll have a good crowd and the emotions of the game will be at an all-time high,” said Air Force senior Matt Pulver (Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin). “There would be nothing better than to skate around on Monday with that trophy above our heads.”

Three Colorado natives are on the Falcons roster: Blake Bride of Broomfield (Monarch HS); Austin Park of Highlands Ranch (CO Thunderbirds); and Ty Pochipinski of Colorado Springs (CO Rampage).

Faceoff at Falcon Stadium tickets cost $25 for the general public and $10 for students, about $100 less than the NHL contest. The college game’s tickets and parking ($10) can be purchased online at AFtickets.com.

“This weekend, it’s all about the Pikes Peak Trophy, but Monday makes this even bigger than that,” Air Force coach Frank Serratore said. “It’s a historic game for our community.”

Joe Paisley is a freelance writer specializing in sports, notably hockey. Follow Joe on Twitter at @Paisleyhockey.

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