The Colorado State hockey team iced CU-Boulder at the Pepsi Center Friday night with an impressive 6-3 win in front of an estimated 6,000 fans.
The Buffs came out flying to start the game and took an early lead off of a top-shelf wrist shot from the circle that beat CSU goaltender John Miller on the short side.
Rather than being stunned by the early goal, CSU seemed to snap to life upon being scored on.
â€œOnce they got their feet under them with the first couple of shifts, we stuck with the game plan,â€ said coach Kelly Newton.
Junior Ben Smoot tied the game with about six minutes remaining in the first period when he shoved a rebound past the CU goalie.
The gameâ€™s key sequence came partway through the second period.
The Buffs took a 2-1 lead off of a wrist shot over the shoulder of Miller and, just over 30 seconds later, CSU was called for boarding. This gave CU an opportunity to go on the power play looking for a two-goal lead.
Instead of falling down by two, the Rams were able to snatch momentum when Casey Schermerhorn got a breakaway and beat the goalie with a quick backhander through the five-hole to tie the game at two.
The shorthanded goal turned out to be the biggest point in the game.
â€œA shorthanded goal is always huge,â€ said two-goal scorer Kollin Vandersluis. â€œWe took a penalty down 2-1, expecting to hopefully kill it off and we end up getting a shorthanded goal to tie it up. That was big, a big momentum swing.â€
CSU took a lead that it would never relinquish with just over two minutes remaining in the second period when Vandersluis took a pass just above the crease and deked around the goalie and slid the puck into the vacant net.
With CSU leading by one at the start of the third period, the Buffaloes came out and put a lot of pressure on CSUâ€™s net as they tried to tie the game. But Miller was up to the task, making two key saves in the opening minutes to preserve the lead.
Then, as they did all night, the Rams took advantage of an opportunity to extend their lead. CU took a penalty and Vandersluis scored his second goal of the game with a shot from the point, giving CSU a 4-2 lead.
â€œBeginning of the periods, they came out flying and we just had to weather the storm,â€ said Miller about the sequence at the start of the third period. â€œIf you donâ€™t take advantage of your opportunities when theyâ€™re given to you, they can come back to haunt you. Tonight we took advantage.â€
CSU scored two more goals to extend its lead to 6-2, before CU scored late to give itself a more respectable score line.
The Rams will look to build on their momentum when they face CU again this Friday in Fort Collins.
Sports reporter Kevin Lytle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.