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CSU hockey coach doubts the team’s heart

Hockey_Vs_OU_15It was not anticipated for the CSU hockey team to under go a rebuilding year but breaking through into what many can say as the toughest conference in the Division I has made it seem that way.

Headed into the first D-I weekend on their home ice, the Rams were 3-7 after losing to top-ranked Minot State, Arizona State and conference opponent CU-Boulder.

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CSU currently rests on a four-game losing streak after falling 3-0 in a three-game series Nov.15-16. The Rams faced No. 6 Central Oklahoma and No.5 Oklahoma University with a total of 16 goals penetrating the Rams net compared to CSU’s seven.

“I am very disappointed with the lack of preparation, lack of effort, lack of focus and lack of heart that pretty much 95-percentage of our team showed tonight (Nov.16),” head coach Kelly Newton said. “Out of nine periods of hockey this weekend, we won one.”

While Newton purposely planned a challenging start to the season for his team, the competitive schedule was expected to prepare the team for a successful eight-game home stand.

In previous games, CSU has struggled to take its 40-plus shots on net and place them behind the goalie. A continuous drill in practice for the Rams transformed into a weekend struggle of getting shots put on the net.

“With what we had, I mean I guess we were as prepared as we could be,” assistant captain Connor Tamai said. “It was not enough and you can definitely see in Thursday and Saturday that we were not prepared.”

Though coaches believed the preparation in practice would play over into game situations, it was not expected that a getting its head in the game needed to be addressed.

“You can’t tell me that that all comes down to luck and skill. At some point in time it comes down to not being mentally prepared before you get to the rink,” Newton said. “That has been a struggle for a lot of our games this year.”

Disagreeing with his coach, captain Jamison Wicks believes the mental preparation is there. He said there is no change in preparation from week to week over any game, it just comes down to having the heart to win the battles on the wall.

Newton had absolutely no idea why there was such a drastic change in play from an overtime loss on Friday to a dramatic five-point loss on Saturday. He also said there was not a change in play from the Sooner but that his team took three steps back of its level of play.

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“When you lose a hard fought game the next night typically shows what kind of character your team has and it was pretty much a no-show on everyone’s part,” Newton said.

With a reflection on play Newton has seen, he begins to doubt the ability he has foreseen this season.

“We take the time time to recruit players that have played at a high levels and you can’t tell me that it is the coaches job to prepare these players before they get to the rink on how they are supposed to play,” Newton said.

The Rams currently practice two nights a week for an hour and fifteen minutes each in each session. This season the main focus had been put towards power plays, shooting as well as on an aggressive stance to withstand the hits against opposing players.

The tough schedule is not over for CSU. Within the next two weekends, the Rams will face Williston State an Minot in four remaining home games in the 2013 year.

“So you either got it or you don’t,” Newton said. “And I am really questioning as far as whether we have it right now or not.”

Hockey beat reporter Haleigh Hamblin can be reached at sports@collegian.com 

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