Denver is the new Hockeytown, USA
Hat tricks are one of the most exciting feats in hockey, and Denver just pulled off one for the ages.
Driving the news: Crowds flooded the streets on June 30 for the Avalanche's Stanley Cup parade — the Avs' first title since 2001 and Denver's third hockey championship since March.
- The Denver East Angels won the high school national championship in late March, beating Northport-Huntington (New York).
- The Denver Pioneers won the NCAA championship less than two weeks later, beating Minnesota State for a record-tying ninth title.
Fun fact: The Avalanche and Pioneers became the first teams from the same city to win the Stanley Cup and NCAA D-I titles in the same year since 1972 (Boston University and the Bruins).
What they're saying: "You're getting the best athletes at a young age wanting to play hockey — and it's a beautiful thing to see," says Denver East coach John Kopperud, who thinks the Avs' recent rise is having a trickle-down effect.
- He may have a point: This past season, a record number of youth played hockey in Colorado, per AP.
- A similar phenomenon occurred in the 90s: The number of USA Hockey players registered in the Denver region more than doubled in the six years between the Avs' first (1996) and second titles (2001).