The Rocky Mountain Showdown hits the ice Friday night when the CSU hockey club faces CU-Boulder under the bright lights at the Pepsi Center.
The game is the conclusion of a club hockey triple-header that will see Denver and Metro State face-off, followed by a match between the CSU and CU J.V. teams before the main event.
As is the case every time CSU and CU play in any sport, the intensity level will be at a breaking point. This is magnified even more because of the parity of the two teams. CU finished first in the ACHA D-II West Division last year, with the Rams finishing in second.
The Ramsâ€™ roster is filled with a plethora of freshmen, making it imperative that they come out with the right amount of intensity and avoid making mistakes from being overanxious to make a positive impact.
â€œOur biggest issue will be keeping our emotions under control,â€ said coach Kelly Newton. â€œWe have to play within the team and stick with whatâ€™s been working for us. We want to maintain our speed and tempo.â€
The team brings a fast and exciting brand of hockey to the table, making it an entertaining team to watch.
â€œWeâ€™re a pretty high-scoring team,â€ said captain Nik Burge. â€œItâ€™s a big game to play in the Pepsi Center â€“â€“ where the (Colorado Avalanche) play. Iâ€™m sure guys will be nervous, but we definitely want to come out and play aggressive.â€
CSU enters the game 5-1 against other ACHA D-II opponents, with its only loss coming in the teamâ€™s opening game. The Rams are averaging over five goals a game against D-II opponents, while conceding just over two goals per game.
The Rams are looking forward to the opportunity to get an early lead in the standings on their divisional rivals.
â€œItâ€™s a big game in the standings,â€ Burge said. â€œWe want to get the first game against CU to get first in the rankings. Weâ€™ve had a good, solid week of practice to prepare for this game.â€
No matter what the outcome of Fridayâ€™s game, the Rams will get another crack at their rivals when CU comes to Fort Collins next week for another showdown.
Tonightâ€™s event is being played at the Pepsi Center through a partnership with the Colorado Avalanche that allows students to buy tickets to the CSU game as well as a future Avalanche game for $20. Ticket purchasers are able to select which schoolâ€™s program they want to support in order for proceeds to go to that program.
The Rams are hoping to be able to attract a big crowd for this marquee event.
â€œItâ€™s a great venue. Itâ€™s a great opportunity for our Denver-based alumni to come support us,â€ Newton said. â€œLast year we got about 4,000 people on a Thursday night, so weâ€™re hoping to improve on that.â€
Fridayâ€™s game is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. following the conclusion of the J.V. match. Parking at the arena is free.
Sports reporter Kevin Lytle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.