While the season is over for the Colorado Avalanche, their affiliate team in the Central Hockey League, the Denver Cutthroats, is playing for a league championship. The Cutthroats are an expansion franchise in the CHL, playing in only their second season. It hasn't taken long for them to rise to the top. They were near the bottom of the CHL standings in their inaugural season, but finished second at the conclusion of the regular season this year. Now they will play against the Allen Americans for the Ray Miron President's Cup, the trophy annually awarded to the CHL Champions.
The Central Hockey League, though it is a minor league, was once larger and more prosperous than it is now. Just a few years ago, it had 18 teams, including a team from Colorado called the Colorado Eagles, who are not affiliated with the Avalanche and now play in the larger ECHL (formerly East Coast Hockey League, shortened to ECHL). Now, the CHL has only ten teams, and the Denver Cutthroats are the current team representing Colorado in that league.
CHL hockey in the state of Colorado has almost come full circle with the Cutthroats now playing for a championship. While the Colorado Eagles were the state's CHL team, they dominated the league, making it to the league finals five times in eight years, winning the Ray Miron President's Cup twice. Then, the Eagles figuratively graduated to the ECHL, leaving Colorado without a CHL team. Then, in 2012, the Cutthroats were born, and the Colorado Avalanche welcomed them as a minor league affiliate. Now, once again, a Colorado team is in the CHL finals.
It is a small consolation, if it is a consolation at all for Colorado hockey fans, that the Cutthroats have made it to this point while the Avalanche are done. Nonetheless, it shows that even the Avalanche farm system is doing well, and the future of Colorado hockey is bright.Tags: CHL, Colorado, Colorado Avalanche, Colorado Eagles, Denver Cutthroats, ECHL, Hockey, NHL