After losing two close games to Colorado at the end of 2002, the Rams hockey team started the New Year off right by splitting two tough series, with one happening to be again against the Buffaloes.
Both games took place at Eldora Pool and Ice Center, and CSU defended its home ice with force, proving itself ready for the home stretch of the season.
CU first came to town on Thursday and took it to CSU, scoring two goals on its first two shots. CSU managed to add a goal, but the Buffs put in two more, making the score 4-1 at the end of the first period. The second period was pretty idle, but then CSU came out and scored three unanswered goals in the third period to tie the game at four a piece.
The Buffaloes snuck a shot into the Rams net with under five minutes remaining and then got another score to end the game with a score of 6-4.
Friday night showed much more promise for the Rams as they got an early lead and never looked back. Leading at the end of every period, CSU finished the game with an 8-5 victory.
Both games were prime examples of the strong rivalry between CSU and CU, with CSU committing a total of 31 penalties after both games. Senior captain Travis Burge hopes the team can build off the win.
“We are hoping for a strong finish for the rest of the season and hopefully we can build from the win against CU,” Burge said. “Hopefully we get the fans involved. To beat CU in front of a sellout crowd, it just doesn’t get any better than that.”
In the Rams’ first series of the year, they won a game and lost a game against some ex-college and ex-NHL players known as Moosehead. CSU took the first game by a score of 8-6, but lost a close second game that had to go into a shootout, and ended with Moosehead on top 10-7.
The Rams record currently stands at 16-6-2.
CSU has been practicing since Jan. 4 and feels like it is ready for the rest of the season.
“We have had some pretty heavy practices and it was really good because we didn’t have anything else to do and we could just focus on hockey,” Burge said.
The team’s head coach, Brain Sutton, is also very optimistic about the Ram’s future.
“We are having a lot of up-tempo practices with everyone skating really hard and I really like everyone’s attitude,” Sutton said. “Our biggest challenge for the rest of the season will be staying out of the penalty box. We spend way too much time in there.”
The Rams will be back in action this Friday and Saturday night at 7:45 against the Northern Colorado All-Stars at EPIC. The team is made up of ex-CSU and other ex-college players.
“They are a very talented team but we are ready for a good game. We are in better shape and we are younger and faster,” Sutton said. “We hope to use it as a stepping stone for our next league games against Utah and Utah State. If we can beat them, we should be good to go for nationals.”