In hockey, it is important to fill your lineup with strong defensemen, quick forwards and players who can get the puck in the net. For Colorado State hockey, the start of its season began with the addition of 15 freshmen.
An addition targeted towards the future of CSU hockey has now became a critical aspect to the success of the 2013 season. It’s not often a team that requires so much from young players is able to remain at such a high level after three weeks of play.
“They weren’t gun shy or backed down by any means,” head coach Kelly Newton said. “Once the initial nervousness against Ohio wore off, they just threw themselves at everything; it was just great.”
On any given night, Newton is faced with calling upon first year players at CSU to make key plays and score goals. Though it may seem like a lot of pressure to put on players, the Rams are fighting for a spot on the ice and every second counts.
“It’s tough you know,” Luke Fiegl said. “You know that you don’t have a guaranteed spot going into the night. You just have to work your ass off every practice and battle through it; hard work pays off.”
In its first season at the Division I club level, CSU hockey came in as the newcomer. Not knowing what to expect other than bigger, quicker and faster players, four freshmen have taken control of the ice in key roles this season.
Despite the drawbacks one could assume freshman can cause to an establishing program; Will Neff, Eric Killam, Luke Figel and Collin Abitz lead the youngins.
“I think they, with their young age, still bring a lot of maturity in the way that they play,” captain Jamison Wicks said. “They are a key aspect to our success and should not be overlooked for being new.”
Newton knew coming into Division I that this season would be a challenge to defend and fighting on offense to win games. In a large recruiting class, Newton wanted to bring three key aspects to the line up.
“I was looking for big defensemen and power forwards if I could find them,” Newton said. “After that, It was guys that were skilled and could put the puck in the net when we needed to.”
According to Newton, he recruited Figel, Abitz and Neff knowing their skill level and contribution towards this team.
“It’s a lot of fun; the pace is quick, a lot of great guys,” Fiegl said. “Everyone knows what to do, it’s competitive and we are proving ourselves one game at a time.”
The Rams are just weeks into the 2013-14 season and have played three Division I games. CSU will continue the season against CU-Boulder Saturday followed by another weekend of conference play in Northern Dakota.
In the eyes of players, coach and dedicated fans, this season is the first step into the many successful seasons to come on Rams ice. With 15 freshman on the line up this season and three leaving in the spring, CSU lights a path towards the top in the next four seasons.
“Division I and having these guys just shows that were kind of turning the page and we should be getting a lot more respect for the hockey program and just bringing it to the next level,” Wicks said.
Hockey Beat Reporter Haleigh Hamblin can be reached at email@example.com