Colorado State hockey’s national title run came up short in the semifinals in Rochester, N.Y., after winning its pool with a 2-0-1 record; CSU (23-4-3) lost to the eventual national champions, Oakland University (22-6-1), in the semifinals.
“We felt we dominated (Oakland),” said head coach Joe Sharrock. “Everyone on the team stepped up. We felt we could have won it all.”
Third in the nation felt good to the Rams, but third still isn’t first.
“We got so close, we could taste winning,” said defenseman Jordan Stover. “The competition was intense. That was the best hockey I’ve been a part of.”
Stover notched three goals, an assist and eight penalty minutes in the four games to earn All-Tournament honors at the defense position.
Early in the tournament, CSU blanked Bryant (9-9-1) 3-0 and then settled for a tie with Central Michigan (12-14-2) 6-6. A 2-1 win against Wagner (29-6-3), whom Sharrock called “better than Oakland,” gave the Rams first place in the pool and set up the semifinal game against Oakland.
“It was 2-1 by the end of the first,” said Sharrock. “One bounce goes a different way and we could have been in the finals.”
CSU was hurt in its 3-2 loss by the early departure of defenseman Jake McFarland. McFarland was ejected in a questionable incident in the early moments of the match.
A bright spot for the Rams in the tournament was the goaltending of Jeff Ronkoske.
“I’m surprised Ronko wasn’t mentioned for any All-Tournament teams,” said Sharrock.
Appearing in all four games, Ronkoske made 95 of 99 saves.
Much of the team will be returning for another run next season, which means the Rams will have high expectations for the next year’s dance as well.
“For real. We should win it next year,” said Stover.
As for this season, the team looks to extend its thanks to everyone who contributed to a successful year. Third may not be first, but the team still cherishes the achievement of getting to the semis.
“I’m proud of what the team accomplished,” said Sharrock. “The guys represented the school well.”
Aaron Schoonmaker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.