The Colorado Avalanche are not the only team in Colorado that is playing good hockey lately. CSU is also displaying a great deal of talent.
It is hard to be compared to an NHL franchise that has gone 12-1-1-1 in its last 15 games, thus moving into second place in the Northwest Division of the Western Conference, but CSU is making an impact on college hockey.
The Rams are one of 16 teams to be invited to the National Collegiate Tournament in Anaheim, Calif., starting today and running through Saturday. After finishing the regular season with a 20-6-2 record, the team secured a No. 2 seed in the West behind the University of Colorado.
The tournament is split into four pools; CSU will play each team in its pool to determine if it will go onto the semifinals. The Rams will face Indiana University of Pennsylvania on Wednesday, the University of Illinois on Thursday, and SUNY-Stonybrook on Friday.
Last year, CSU finished eighth at nationals and was the only team from the West to win a game. They also won the West Division.
The CSU squad enters the tournament on a three-game winning streak, with Wyoming being the latest victim in a 4-2 loss that gave the Rams the Border War Trophy for the second year in a row.
While the Peter Forsberg-Milan Hedjuk-Alex Tanguay line is terrorizing the NHL by combining for 26 goals and 41 assists in the Avs’ last 15 games, CSU’s line-up of forwards Scott Graham, Derek Foster and Ryan Lewis is also proving to be quite a menace. Graham leads the pack with 31 goals and 24 assists, followed by Foster with 20 goals and 16 assists, and Lewis with 18 goals and 21 assists.
Goalie Elliott Ritter has been effective when protecting the net with a 3.76 goals-against average and a .840 save percentage. His numbers may not match up to Roy’s, but he has made the key saves when he had to.
CU will be a strong force in the tournament and could be trouble for the Rams if they have to face each other. In the four games the teams played each other this year, the Rams came out with two losses, one tie, and one victory. As each game between the two teams draws more blood and lands more guys in the penalty box, the rivalry is growing to be just as intense as the greatest rivalry in the NHL – the Avalanche and the Detroit Red Wings.
CSU has a great hockey team, one that is ranked in the top 16 in Division II. It is an amazing feat for a club team to be ranked so high and have such a strong program.
So while the fair-weather fans start to watch the Avs again and sports fans get wrapped up in March Madness, remember that we have a nationally ranked team right here at CSU.
Results for the tournament can be tracked on the team’s Web site at www.csuramhockey.com.
Joelle is a sophomore journalism major.