Feb 042010
Authors: Cris Tiller

There will be blood.

Or at least some big hits and intense physical play between two rivals separated by only a few miles and a short trip down Interstate-25.

Tonight the CSU men’s hockey team (19-7-1) will play the University of Northern Colorado (13-13-1) at the Budweiser Event Center for the second annual Rocky Mountain Face Off.

CSU has faced the Bears three previous times this season, winning each one by a very comfortable margin including last game’s 9-2 victory. That does not mean the fourth installment should be as easy according to head coach Kelly Newton.

“They are a hard working team with no superstars,” Newton said. “Goaltending for them can also be a game changer; I hope (our team doesn’t) look past them to CU.”

The message for now has appeared to reach the players as well.

“There is (a let down),” senior captain A.J. Hau said. “But playing there in front of a big crowd, we should show up.”

Games between the two schools this year have not been close in terms of the scoreboard, but both sides like to hit and make a conscious effort to do so.

“They never stop working whether they’re down one or five goals, and they love to hit,” Hau said. “We love to hit too, and I like hitting everyone to keep it on their mind.”

Newton is expecting his veteran leadership to have a good game, but looks to his young players, led by freshman Paul Jenkins, to score.

“A.J. Hau, our captain, always steps up to the plate,” Newton said. “We also have Dan Malone coming back from a leg injury this summer, but we need our freshman line to put the puck in the net.”

Jenkins leads the team in points with 67, including 21 goals, and sophomore Parker Harrison is second in points and the team leader in goals with 29.

“We call them the green line because of their practice jerseys,” Hau said. “They really stepped up after our injuries and have meant a lot to us this year.”

In addition to hockey, the Budweiser Event Center provides a new venue for both the fans and players alike.

“Playing there is awesome, it’s an amazing facility,” Hau said. “The atmosphere in there is great, I love the whole feel of it.”

The Rocky Mountain Face Off is presented by the Colorado Eagles and all proceeds from the game will benefit youth hockey in Northern Colorado and collegiate club hockey. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7:05 p.m.

“It’s a great venue to showcase the talent we have,” Newton said. “The fundraiser also gets a great product to showcase.”

Club Sports Reporter Cris Tiller can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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