A goal from the start of the 2013-14 season for the CSU hockey team was to qualify for nationals as well as finishing in the top four spots of the Western Collegiate Hockey League. With nine games remaining in the season and one spot out of nationals, time is growing thin.
In order to fulfill the goal of nationals, the Rams will need to bring all they have when competing against two of the top teams in the division and league in form of a win.
“Oklahoma is one of the best teams in the country, they have a lot of players from all over the country that are pretty physical,” head coach Ken Fikis said. “They are a strong team so we are going to need to play at a high level.”
The Rams are scheduled to play No. 11 Central Oklahoma University Thursday at 6:30 p.m. MT and No. 5 Oklahoma University Friday and Saturday.
Thursday will be the Rams’ second appearance against the Broncos this season and their third against the Sooners. CSU challenged the two teams on its home ice at the NoCo Ice Arena, where the Rams failed to pull off the win in all three matches.
The Rams fell short in an overtime loss against Central Oklahoma, 4-3. The hope was to bounce back and stop the Sooners, CSU could not match the number of pucks on net and physical ability which resulted in a 7-2 and 5-2 loss.
“They have a pretty good offense, but I think if we can kind of control the play and be aggressive we are going to do well,” junior Nathan Strah said. “The more physical we are I think the most successful we are going to be.”
A concern heading into games against Oklahoma will be the Rams ability to put the puck in the net. From the start of the season pucks have been flying around the net, off the post and in the glove of the goalie. CSU will be successful this weekend with an early goal to build momentum while being able to continue tough attacks on net.
“The thing we have to do is put the puck in the net,” Fikis said. “We did not score in our last two games in Michigan so we got to figure out a way to score some goals and beat them.”
CSU has had little time outside of game experience to prepare for the three game road series ahead, though the limited time in practice does count them out. CSU gained confidence last weekend after defeating No. 9 Adrian College in overtime.
A key asset to the Rams this season has been junior goalie Alex Steidler. With 19 games under his belt, Steidler has allowed 62 goals this season with a 3.47 goals against average.
“Alex Steidler in net is kind of our anchor back there and it has been all season,” Strah said.
With the defensive ability in front of the net, the Rams hold their heads high as they look to defeat two strong competitors.
“I think things are looking up for us and I think it is something we should be okay for,” Strah said. “I think we are all pretty confident, we all know that we can take these teams and were all pretty confident that we will take care of business. We’re focused and ready to go.”
Collegian Sports Reporter Haleigh Hamblin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org