Despite playing severely shorthanded, being without its head coach and playing the second-ranked team in its league, the CSU Rams club hockey team pulled out a win against the Eastern Washington University Eagles on Saturday night in the last game of the regular season.
CSU (20-8-2), who is ranked third in the West region of the Division-II American Collegiate Hockey Association, defeated the EWU (18-4-2) by the final score of 2-1 at EPIC (Edora Pool and Ice Center).
The Rams were just happy to come away with a win before heading to Oakland, Calif., for Regional’s next weekend. Coach Joe Sharrock, who watched the game outside of the players box, was impressed with how the team stepped up.
“We had a lot of guys out of the lineup, and I’m proud of the guys that stepped up,” Sharrock said. “We take away our top two lines, and these guys do the simple stuff right, and we come away beating one of the best teams in the nation.”
Sophomore forward Nik Burge gave the Rams a 1-0 lead midway through the first period. Tim Stiller, who leads the team in total points, scored the winning goal on a power play at the end of the second period. Adam Havens, Brad Hau, and Mitch Hoover all had assists for CSU.
The Rams held the Eagles scoreless for nearly the entire game. EWU’s Kris Boyce punched one in with less than five minutes to go in the third period to ruin the shutout for CSU.
Sharrock attributed the victory to the solid play of his goalie and defense.
“(Goalie) Mike Dlugos played really well on the net and the defense was outstanding tonight,” he said. “The guys played disciplined hockey and this was the result.”
Dlugos, a junior, was given his seventh start ahead of Brian Minor. Sharrock wanted to test him against a quality team.
“He’s new to the team this year, and he’s stepped right in and played well every single game,” Sharrock said. “Minor has been our number one all season, but we wanted to give Mike a shot at playing a damn good team to see how he would do, and he really stepped up.”
The Rams tied the Eagles in the first matchup between the two teams this season on Dec. 2. Stiller said the team was determined not to let that happen again.
“We owed these guys,” Stiller said. “They stole one from us earlier in the season. We blew a third period lead last week, and we just weren’t going to let it happen this week.”
Sports reporter Brandon Owens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.