It’s all about pride and bragging rights this weekend as CSU hockey faces off with Colorado-Boulder in a home-and-away series.
CSU (19-6-4, second in West Division) will travel to Boulder to lock horns with the Buffaloes (22-5-4, third in West Division) tonight before the series finishes in Fort Collins at the Edora Pool and Ice Center on Saturday night.
The Rams haven’t had much success against CU this season. In an earlier weekend series with the Buffaloes, the Rams walked away with nothing to show but a 7-5 loss and a 3-3 tie.
“We always say if you don’t beat CU, the season is kind of a bust,” Rams forward Tim Stiller said. “We haven’t been able to beat them this year; these are our last two chances.”
This is a much different CSU team from the one that lost to CU last semester. Since the loss to the Buffs on Dec. 1, CSU has not lost to a divisional opponent and has only lost two games, both coming this past weekend in a four-games-in-four-days road trip in Michigan.
CSU has already qualified for the ACHA National Hockey Tournament, which will be held in Fort Collins March 7-10. CSU is ranked second in the Western Division, one spot ahead of CU, who sits at third.
By ACHA rules, CU has to compete in a tournament next weekend to qualify for nationals. Therefore, both games this weekend are purely for bragging rights.
Since the tournament rankings have been finalized, CSU can focus solely on the games.
Rams forward Jared Hillier talked about being able to just focus on the rivalry.
“Knowing that these games are just based on the rivalry between us and them takes some pressure off,” Hillier said. “But it also adds a sense of grit and tenacity to the game. There’s not a lot on the line but pride.”
The weekend’s games will feature the high-powered CU offense against a well-rounded, gritty, defensive CSU team. CU is led by wingers Jimmy Knowlton and Kevin Alpert, who lead the Buffaloes with 71 and 59 points, respectively.
“It’s going to be getting to the net early and obviously using our physical play to take away their speed.” Hillier said. “They’ve got a couple guys who are quick and small, so if we put our bodies on them early in the game we will have the advantage.”
The Rams will play in Boulder tonight, before heading back to the friendly confines of EPIC on Saturday.
Both games can be heard on 90.5 FM KCSU – pre-game coverage begins at 7 p.m. with the opening face-off at 7:30 p.m. both nights.
KCSU Sports Director Cole Weinman and KCSU sports reporter Nick Sebesta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.