University of Colorado senior Daniel Coloccia's college hockey career came to an end in Grand Rapids, Mich., on Thursday after a 2-1 loss to Miami of Ohio in the 2009 American Collegiate Hockey Association Division II National Championships.
Coloccia had hoped his team would break out of pool play and make it to the semifinals this year. In the opener Tuesday, the Buffaloes had erased a three-goal deficit in the third period against William Paterson (25-10-1) to win 8-4.
But this wasn't the storybook ending the senior defenseman and former Steamboat Springs High School standout (2004-05) had wanted.
Colorado (24-13-1) suffered a heartbreaking 5-1 loss to the defending national champion Davenport University (39-3-1) on Wednesday night and then faded in a 2-1 loss to Miami of Ohio in Coloccia's final game Thursday.
Davenport, Colorado State, Siena and Florida Gulf Coast advanced out of pool play and will play in the finals, which begin today.
"I will never forget that game (against William Paterson)," Coloccia said. "The passion. The comeback. Scoring seven goals in the third period. It was perfect, and it showed how committed these guys are to our team, and to our game. I'll never forget these guys."
Coloccia was a captain for Colorado the past two seasons and plans to graduate from the university this spring with a degree in ecology and environmental biology.
"Dan loves hockey," said Everett Pfeiff, general manager of the University of Colorado hockey team. "There's no question that he will be involved with the game in one way or another for the rest of his life.
Pfeiff said the role of the ACHA is to provide a venue for athletes to pursue their love of hockey and experience the game at a high level. The league uses the same rules and format as the higher level NCAA division.
"I predict a bright future for Dan no matter what he goes on to do," Pfeiff said. "He's got an engaging personality, and he's a bright, intelligent young man. He will be successful."
"I'm hoping to get something in the bio-technology field, or maybe I will go to graduate school. I'm just not sure," Coloccia said.
The one thing that is for sure it that his run as a member of the University of Colorado's Division II hockey team has come to an end.
"I'm just so proud of this team and these guys," Coloccia said. "We made it to the national finals all four years I was here, and that's something I'm very proud of doing."
Coloccia has been playing hockey since he first stepped onto the ice as a mite with the Steamboat Springs Youth Hockey Association.
Coloccia's hard working personality has always served him well, according to his former coach Jeff Ruff
"I coached him off and on since he was 7 years old," Ruff said. "He's always been willing to work hard, as hard as he has needed to accomplish his goals."
Coloccia's run in Steamboat was interrupted by a stint with the AAA midget minor Outlaws in Littleton. But he returned to Steamboat Springs, and coach Ruff, in 2004 to finish his prep career as a member of the Steamboat Springs High School team. That year, he was a team captain and was named to the All-State team.
After high school, he went to the University of Colorado, where he extended his hockey career.
"He made a major impression on this team," Pfeiff said. "He is one of four seniors that we are losing this year. But I think his departure will have the biggest impact on this team."
The one thing Coloccia had hoped for was to leave the ice with no regrets, and he was thankful for his years with Colorado.
"I've made some great, life-long friendships on this team," Coloccia said. "I've been here since I was a freshman, and this has been one of the best things about college."