A 14-hour bus ride allowed the CSU men’s hockey team time to reflect.
In a three-game road series in North Dakota, the Rams left without benefiting from a single win in the conference despite keeping all three games close until the third period. Thursday began its second road trip of the season as CSU hoped to continue a one game winning streak in the conference with momentum on its side.
The Rams could not overcome penalties, blocked shot attempts and the inability to play all 60 minutes. It was because of this struggle that the Rams were faced with three third period comeback battles.
“We took our foot off the gas and they made us pay,” Head Coach Kelly Newton said. “It is a hard lesson to learn, but it’s early in the season and that is why we book these games, they can see what needs to be done.”
The Rams fell to 0-3 on the weekend and 1-5 in ACHA play. After six games at the Division I club level, CSU’s record does not reflect on where the team would like to be. In those games, the Rams fell in three of them by a one-goal deficit.
“It feels terrible for us especially how well we have played late into a couple of periods,” assistant captain Connor Tamai said. “It was not a fun bus ride home but it was a learning experience for sure.”
Goalie Alex Steidler and forward Collin Abitz served as two key players in the road series. Abitz contributed towards the score board in hopes of sticking the puck towards the other team, while Steidler remained the rock of the defense in net.
Facing 43 shots against Williston and a total of 77 between the two games at Minot, Steidler allowed just 10 goals to pass. Headed into back to back days of play, the Rams knew the Beavers would be a challenge do to Minot’s previous championships.
“It’s really tough to end series or even individual games without the reward you had hoped for,” Tamai said. “We have lost several games this season to teams that we out played and out-shot; eventually it will go into our favor.”
This season CSU has struggled to continue competitive play from the time the puck drops to the time the buzzer hits zero. CSU will have one practice to change concentration and tighten up the loose ends before heading to Arizona for another week of D-I play.
“It’s either a lack of conditioning or a lack of mental focus, what ever it is, we got to fix it,” Tamai said. “We’re going to practice hard on Tuesday to straighten things out.”
Hockey Beat Reporter Haleigh Hamblin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org