While professional hockey seemed unfeasible with the likes of Peter Forseberg and the Colorado Avalanche, playing college hockey had always been the pinnacle of my childhood dreams. For me, accepting an athletic scholarship to Colorado College was like ordering crème Brule after a steak dinner, an absolute no-brainer. Not only did this decision capture a childhood dream, it created an epic dilemma for all members of the Testwuide family.
My decision came while JP was halfway through his freshman year at the University of Denver. From his perspective, I had gone to the dark side, I had committed to the rival. At the time, I was aware that a rivalry existed but was completely naïve to the magnitude of hatred that existed between the two teams. For the next three years JP and I battled against each other in one of college hockey’s greatest rivalries.
An impossible night of sleep. A Locker room silenced by intense focus. Arenas overflowing with eager fans. Student sections formulating ruthless chants. Adrenaline seeping from every pore. These are just a few images that attempt to capture the realities leading up to game time.
In addition to the already elevated pregame jitters, I knew that my brother was in the opposing locker room preparing to dismantle any hopes of a CC victory. I also knew that my mom was a nervous wreck, probably halfway done with her 2nd Captain Morgan and coke wearing here legendary split jersey (picture below). No matter how nervous she got, I could always expect to see her standing on the glass during warm-ups and made sure to give her a wink and a smile as I skated past. Her overwhelming enthusiasm made for some truly emotional moments and my dad stuck with her through them all. Calm, cool, and collected he never missed a play, watching intensely from an ideal vantage point secluded from distractions. They never took sides and always wished for a great game that ended in a tie.
Things really heated up when we hit the ice. Extra incentive was added each time we stepped onto the ice together. JP is not a defender you like to go up against. He makes you pay the price whenever you are in his vicinity. His daunting defensive skills were not enough to overpower his little brother on multiple occasions. During our three-year rivalry, Colorado College managed a very impressive record going 7-1-4 while also retaining the coveted “Gold Pan” as series champions each year.
Even though we were rivals on game day, we made a great effort to spend as much time together as possible. Only being separated by a 50-minute drive made frequent visits a habit. On multiple occasions we would bring teammates along and everyone seemed to get along just fine. In some ways I think we reshaped the bitter rivalry and created OFF ICE friendships that would not have existed otherwise.