The CSU hockey team took on the top-seeded Utah State Aggies on Friday night and inched closer to a post-season berth with an impressive 6-3 victory.
With a sparse but enthusiastic crowd behind them at the Providence Ice Arena, the Rams were able to match the physical play of the Aggies and rebound after a slow start in the first period.
Utah State opened the scoring early in the first period on a power play, despite putting only five shots on net. Although the Rams had 12 shots on net, they could not find a weakness in Utah’s goalie and defense.
“I knew we just had to be patient,” CSU head coach Brian Sutton said about his team’s start. “I told them not to get into the physical play and just clog the middle.”
The Rams went down 2-0 early in the second period, but quickly answered when Chad Warren scored off a Matt Merritt assist. The score opened the gates for the Rams and they immediately added two more scores from Merritt and new addition Josh Bowers, a recent transfer from Ferris State University, to take a 3-2 lead.
The physical play reached its height in the second period and several scuffles broke out, including two incidents between CSU players and Utah State’s goalie, who was penalized both times.
Utah State tied the game 3-3 with one minute into the third period but, once again, the Rams were able to answer and team captain Chris Lockrem put his team up for good with an unassisted score.
“We were discouraged at first,” Lockrem said. “But we knew that if we kept taking shots, we’d get some goals on him. Our team defense really stepped up.”
The Rams added two more goals in the third period, including Josh Bowers’ second goal of the night, which came on a feed from his brother Jason, to extend the lead to 6-3.
“We couldn’t start off the second semester any better,” Lockrem said. “We knew they’re No. 1 so we came ready to play.”
The victory moved the Rams to 13-10-1 on the season, and more importantly, closer to a spot in the national tournament.
“This was a huge game,” Sutton said. “Beating the No. 1 team lets people know we’re a strong team.”
The team was right back to action on Saturday night, defeating a lowly Metro State team 13-0 at the Edora Pool and Ice Center.
The Rams will play again this Saturday against Palmer West at 5:30 p.m. at the Providence Ice Arena in Windsor.