This past weekend’s games will not have any effect on the ACHA standings, but the games will linger in the minds of the CSU hockey team.
Upward of 1,000 fans packed the stands at Edora Ice and Pool Center Saturday night, as CSU (20-7-4, second in West Division) fell to Colorado-Boulder (23-6-4, third in West Division) by a score of 5-3 in the most dramatic hockey game CSU has played this year.
The loss to CU came on the heels of a 6-3 victory for the Rams on Friday night in Boulder.
“We wanted to get two wins on the weekend, as any team would. But I was satisfied with the play of a lot of the guys on the team,” said Rams Head Coach Joe Sharrock. “Just like we spoiled their senior night down there, they did the same to us up here.”
Unfortunately, nothing in Saturday night’s game went the way of the Rams. CSU fell behind ten minutes in on a power-play goal by CU winger Jimmy Knowlton.
Rams forward Tim Stiller responded five minutes later with a highlight-reel goal, only to have CU put one past Rams goaltender Brian Minor with a little over a minute left in the first period.
The second period saw numerous hits and penalties but few goals, as CU’s Andrew Neitenbach scored the only goal of the second frame.
CSU would pull even halfway through the third period, on goals coming from Dan Malone and Doug Robinson. CU would pull ahead on a late power play goal by Tim Stanton.
The Rams had a chance to even things up with 1:45 left in the third period on a 6-on-3 power play chance, however a questionable penalty called on Rams forward Luke Smith effectively ended the opportunity, leading to an empty net goal for CU.
“Everyone thought it was going to go our way,” Rams forward Jared Hillier said. “Some of the (official’s) calls were poor; they were able to capitalize on that.”
Nearly 1,000 Ram fans witnessed the loss to CU.
“That was the best crowd we’ve seen; they were fired up, we were fired up, and we hate to lose in front of our fans,” Hillier said.
Friday’s affair in Boulder went much better for CSU. The Rams jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by Adam Havens and Dan Malone. However, the Buffaloes cut the lead in half before the period was over.
The second period didn’t see any scoring, but saw tremendous physical play from both clubs, with hits aplenty.
CSU would pull the lead back to two goals, courtesy of Luke Smith. From there, CSU and CU went goal for goal. David Ludwig scored for CU, only to see CSU’s Mike Sheehan score 40 seconds later.
The Buffs scored again, with four minutes left in the third, but yet again, CSU answered the call 40 seconds later, on a deflection goal from Tim Stiller. Dan Malone put his second goal of the evening into an empty Buffalo net to seal the deal in Boulder.
Highlighting the win was the play of Rams goaltender Jeff Ronkoske, who stopped 52 pucks on Friday night.
“Jeff Ronkoske had the best game I’ve seen him play all year,” said Hillier.
“Friday night ‘Ronko’ kept us in it, he made some key saves,” added Sharrock.
The loss to the Buffs will not affect the Rams negatively; the focus is still on the national tournament.
“The mentality is preparing for nationals. We’re going to see tough games where we are going to get down,” commented Sharrock. “I want to get the injured guys healthy and get back to making sure this is fun for them.”
The Rams will travel to Tempe, Arizona to play Arizona State Friday and Saturday.
KCSU Sports Director Cole Weinman and KCSU sports reporter Nick Sebesta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org