When it comes to hockey, nothing feels or sounds better than the crush of the ice beneath skates on home ice.
While rinks look the same when it comes to the goals, size and markings, no one rink has the same fans, sounds or feeling than its own rink does.
“There is a big difference between rinks because every team has a different fan base and a different culture” Kyle Nitchen, a senior CSU defenseman said. “U of A (the University of Arizona), has a big convention center that holds two to three-thousand fans every game. When we beat them last week, they threw beer on the ice.”
Though CSU fans will not play into throwing beer onto the ice, a benefit the Rams have is the NoCo Ice Arena. For the first time this season, CSU will have home
advantage in DI play.
A positive atmosphere, the roar of the crowd and the ability to skate on its own ice will play into a ever hopeful successful series. Though the Rams are coming off several key injuries, one player believes this series to work in its advantage.
“The last month we have been on the road we found guys are getting a little worn out and sick, so this recovery period will be key for us,” Captain Jamison Wicks said. “These games are huge for us, we play two top ranked teams and in the top ten will push us to compete at the highest level possible.”
Not looking back on road series struggles and the most recent loss against its Colorado rival, CSU is pushing forward.
“We gonna regroup on tuesday, come to the rink ready to work hard and and be ready,” head coach Kelly Newton said. “Now it is just a upward climb for us.”
The Rams have one day of practice to tie up the lose ends. Knowing the competition level at hand, CSU is put to the drawing board in an attempt to resolve the season-long goal scoring struggle.
First up for the Rams is Central Oaklahoma on Thursday, followed by a Friday and Saturday face off against Oklahoma University. With three of eight games completed within three days, it is important for CSU to play every second till the puck stops.
This is the first appearance against the Broncos and Sooner for CSU. The Rams will be put to the test in the DI and its ability to compete for all 60 minutes.
“The other night against Boulder, we played 57 minutes of great hockey,” Wicks said. “The two to three minute letdown is what ended up kind of hurting us in the end. Its important for us to be doing the small things and minimizing mistakes.”
With the cards in the hands of CSU, the eight game home stand will show the true potential of Rams hockey. Earlier in the season, Newton said he planned harder games in the beginning of the season in order to prepare the team for the challenging season to come.
A goal of the season was to make it to the national championship and finish in the top four positions of the Western Conference standings, this home stand will make or break the CSU hockey team.
Hockey Beat Reporter Haleigh Hamblin can be reached at email@example.com.