With Denver on the brink of first pro championship since 2016, police ask Avalanche fans not to celebrate too hard

When* the Colorado Avalanche hoist the Stanley Cup Friday night, plenty of Coloradans will hoist their own celebratory cups, too.

Denver Police are just asking that people who raise their adult beverages to stay away from steering wheels and for all revelers to keep their euphoria more celebratory, and less riotous.

“While this is an exciting time for the Mile High City, as seen in past championship wins, the positive experience of the win can quickly become negative when celebrations turn to destruction,” a news release from the department states. “Fans are asked to celebrate in a controlled manner and not tarnish the team’s accomplishments with illegal acts.”

To drive the message home, Gov. Jared Polis, analyst and former Avalanche player Mark Rycroft and others released video statements encouraging people to celebrate responsibly. (The videos also included mascot Bernie the St. Bernard waving a sign saying “stay out of the penalty box”; the previous mascot, Howler the Yeti, was placed in a permanent penalty box after allegedly getting in a fight with a rival fan in 1999, according to 9News.)

After the Broncos’ 2016 victory in Super Bowl 50 — the most recent championship by a Denver pro sports team — law enforcement closed off multiple streets in downtown and shut down several interstate off ramps. Fans danced and chanted for hours afterward.

Some officers also ended up donning riot gear and using pepper spray and pepper balls to disperse crowds. More than a dozen people were arrested. The alleged offenses included trespassing, throwing things at police officers, starting fires and criminal mischief, according to news reports at the time. Damage include a police cruiser’s window being shattered, and trash cans and patio furniture on the 16th Street Mall being turned over.

Officers would end up donning riot gear and using pepper spray and pepper balls to disperse crowds. A police spokesperson said in the aftermath that “overall, things went pretty well,” but “there were a handful of people who were somewhat unruly.”

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Police expect large crowds and heavy traffic downtown Friday for the game. There may be limited access and road closures. Expect delays if driving to or from the area, and be aware of pedestrian and bicycle traffic.

While it’ll be hard to find venues with a TV not tuned to the game, the official watch party is on the Tivoli Quad at the Auraria Campus, 900 Auraria Parkway. Gates open at 4 p.m. Puck drops at 6 p.m. While a win over the Tampa Bay Lightning secures the championship, a loss doesn’t doom the Avs. Colorado holds a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

A victory Friday would also be Denver’s second hockey championship this year. The University of Denver Pioneers beat the Minnesota State Mavericks this April to win the NCAA Frozen Four Championship and their ninth overall national title.

*We can’t predict the future, but we also just couldn’t bear to say “if.” If this ends up being inaccurate, the Denver Post truly regrets the error.

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