The team is set, the coaches are set and the puck is set to drop on another season of Ram hockey.
CSU will open its 2006 season this weekend with two difficult exhibition games against the Northern Colorado Adult All-Stars.
“It’s no joke to compete against these guys,” said second year Head Coach Joe Sharrock. “It is a good chance for us to get some break-in games before the season.”
The opposing All-Star team is comprised of players from the Ft. Collins adult hockey league, many of which are former CSU players. Last year the Rams dropped the first contest in an 8-1 massacre before coming back for an 8-7 win in game two.
“It will be a good weekend to feel out our lines and mesh,” said senior forward Jarred Hillier. “We’ve just been playing against ourselves for the last two weeks.”
The Rams have added seven new players to the roster this season. All are expected to get some ice time this weekend.
“We’ll dress everybody,” Sharrock said. “We can go with all 26 (players) this weekend without the ACHA (American College Hockey Association) being an issue.”
This includes the three returning goalies: Brian Minor, Jeff Ronkoske and Doug Lesch, each of whom are expected to play two periods each.
It will also be the first time behind the Rams bench for first year assistant coach Kelly Newton. Newton has been with many hockey organizations, most recently at Weber State.
“He’s a real asset,” Hillier said. “He’s quiet but smart. He’s a great individual coach.”
The game will also be different for the Rams. The ACHA is cracking down on hooking and holding calls this season, in a move to a faster, more offensive style of play.
“It’s more of an NHL style of hockey,” Hillier said. “Everyone’s going to be taking their early penalties, but it will be a learning process.”
The games this weekend, as well as all CSU home games, will be played at Edora Pool and Ice Center (EPIC). Start times for Friday and Saturday are slated for 7:30 p.m.
“It’s going to be good to be behind the bench again and see what we can do,” Sharrock said.
Staff writer Aaron Schoonmaker can be reached at email@example.com.