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Denver Cutthroats prove hockey still exists in Colorado, open season tonight

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NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is currently doing his best impersonation of the Grinch that Stole Hockey for the 2012-13 season. But that shouldn't stop you from enjoying the stick-and-skates sport in Colorado this year. Tonight, the newest addition to the Central Hockey League, the Denver Cutthroats, open their inaugural season at the Denver Coliseum against the Missouri Mavericks. The two teams will face off again on Saturday.

The Cutthroats are the most recent in a long line of hockey teams stationed in Denver throughout the years. Other notables have included the Denver Spurs, Colorado Eagles and Denver Grizzlies. Both the Eagles and Grizzlies have won titles in their respective leagues while in Colorado.

In addition to being a Colorado Avalanche farm team of sorts, the Cutthroats will also operate as an affiliate franchise to the American Hockey League's Lake Erie Monsters. Cutthroats spokesman Greg Smith says the team's relationship to the Avalanche is similar to the structure that exists in baseball. "We're like the AA hockey team of the Avalanche," Smith explains.

Maintaining a competitive edge on the ice is obviously key for the Cutthroats -- and every hockey team for that matter. But Smith says that connecting with the community outside the rink is one of the Cutthroats' primary missions in its first year of existence.

"Off the ice, we try to establish ourselves as a community asset," Smith says. "When we first met with the Avalanche, we told them right away that we wanted to develop not only the sport, but the community as well."

The Cutthroats and Mavericks will face off tonight at 7:05 p.m. and Saturday at that same time. Both games will be played at the Denver Coliseum, where the Cutthroats will hold all their home games this year. Tonight's game will be the first ice hockey game held at the Coliseum since 1987. Tickets are $15 and parking will be free.

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