Ram hockey has a chip on its shoulder. After taking fifth in the nation last year, the team is back this weekend with its eyes set on the national championship.
"We have the potential to be the national champs this year," said Jordan Stover, team president and defenseman. "We have twenty returning players and eight new guys that will only make us better."
The biggest change to the team is behind the bench. Joe Sharrock marks the fourth head coach in four seasons for CSU.
"I didn't know any of the players until about a month ago," Sharrock said. "I went to them and asked what they're looking for in a coach. I want something in between someone who is always five minutes late and someone who really cracks the whip."
Sharrock is an Alaskan native who has been around hockey since day one and is very positive about the season.
"We have three solid, fast goal producing lines," Sharrock said. "Along with two grinder lines, that's what every team wants."
Look for a bit of a shift to defense this year as well. The team has always had explosiveness on the offensive end, but help on the defensive end should play a big part this season.
"We have some new guys that can play the hard-nosed hockey he (Sharrock) likes," said Jarred Hillier, forward and team vice president.
But goaltending will be the strongest point for the Rams this season.
"Our goaltending is excellent," Stover said. "Possibly the best ever."
Senior standout goalie Jeff Ronkoske is hurt for the opening of the season, but hopes to see action in the weeks to come. Along with Ronkoske, are impact players in sophomores Rob Smith and Brian Minor.
The Rams play their first game 7 p.m. Saturday at the Edora Pool and Ice Center. Come Oct. 8, they will host the University of Denver, followed by Colorado on Oct. 12.
"We have a lot of friends on CU," Hillier said. "But on the ice it's always a battle."