The Rocky Mountain Showdown hits the ice Saturday night when the CSU club hockey team takes on CU-Boulder at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
But there is no risk of the rivalry cooling off.
The schools are always two of the top teams in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) D-II West Division, raising the stakes on the already heated matchup.
â€œThere are some people that are picking them to finish ahead of us this year, which is kind of mysterious,â€ CSU coach Kelly Newton said. â€œWeâ€™re looking forward to setting the record straight right out of the gates this year.â€
The Rams have started the season well. They are 7-2-1 and carry a five-game winning streak into the game against CU (5-4).
A year ago CSUâ€™s team was stacked with freshman, 12 in total. The year of growth combined with the addition of players with high-level junior hockey and Division-III college experience has turned the Rams into a powerful and balanced team.
â€œWeâ€™re pretty solid behind the blue line, which the last few years weâ€™ve struggled,â€ Newton said.
â€œThis year weâ€™ve got a good core of d-men and three lines that are scoring for us right now and a fourth line that is good at grinding the competition down every shift.â€
Early in the season CSU is giving up 2.5 goals per game while scoring close to five. The Rams are carried by four players averaging more than a point a game, led by 18 from both assistant captain Kollin Vandersluis and captain Paul Jenkins.
The senior leadership from Vandersluis and Jenkins will be key for CSU as they try and avoid being over-exuberant when they hit the ice under the bright lights of a pro arena.
â€œItâ€™s something weâ€™ve talked about, discussed it in practice,â€ Jenkins said. â€œThe first 10 minutes are the most important. You canâ€™t go out there and take a penalty or cough the puck up. Youâ€™ve got to be relaxed, calm, composed and ease yourself into the game.â€
The game is the culmination of a hockey triple-header at Pepsi Center.
The two schoolsâ€™ JV club teams play at 3 p.m. followed by CSU-CU womenâ€™s club hockey game at 5 p.m. The main event starts at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $20 and include access to all three club games as well as a future Colorado Avalanche game.
And, as always when these two schools meet, the intensity will be at a breaking point.
â€œIf you want to watch a CSU program take it to a CU program with reckless abandon, then Saturday night you want to be at Pepsi Center,â€ Newton said.
Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Lytle can be reached at email@example.com.
- What: CSU vs. CU
- When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
- Where: Pepsi Center
- Tickets: Available on www.csuhockey.com
- Promotion: $20 gets tickets to CSU hockey game plus upper level tickets to future Colorado Avalanche game