CSU men’s hockey struggles to come out on top in triple header weekend

Ashley Potts

The Colorado State men’s club hockey team faced a pair of desert opponents in Arizona State University and the University of Arizona over the weekend. Between the trio of games, the Rams’ mistakes burned them. 

The Rams faced the Sundevils first Oct. 11. Both teams had a 1-2 record in the Western Collegiate Hockey League coming into their matchup.

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The first two periods of play were uneventful for the CSU side. Sophomore goaltender Joe Morgan had several saves but allowed ASU to score twice in the early going. 

The goalie stands by the goal
Goalie Joe Morgan looks to the scoreboard afer letting a goal by during the second period of the game against Missouri State on Saturday, January 20, 2018. During the game, he let 2 shots by during the period that he was playing. (Josh Schroeder | Collegian)

The team came alive in the third period, scoring two goals in as many shots a mere 30 seconds apart. Junior Ben Joseph and sophomore Greyson North set up a shot for freshman Sam Cote, who slipped past the Arizona State goalie Bronson Moore. The breakaway was the first Rams’ goal, nearly halfway through the third period.

Less than a minute later, sophomore Tanner Gillis tipped in a slap shot from senior Brein Caseria to tie the game. 

Their goal-scoring run was short lived. Soon after, the Rams got themselves into a 5-on-3 hole as Gillis was called for tripping and North was called for holding.

Within the 2-minute penalties, sophomore Liam Millar was called for delay of game, extending the Rams’ penalty kill. Defending the power play was the Rams’ kryptonite as each ASU goal was scored on the hosts’ penalty kills, taking the game 3-2 behind the advantage.

The Rams were forced to rebound before the next night’s game against the Wildcats. 

In the first minute of the second period, the Wildcats got the Rams out of position and forward Trey Decker put one in the back of the net less than a minute into the frame, this time past Rams’ junior goaltender Avery McDonnell. 

Senior Austin Ansay created some opportunities before answering back for the Rams. Sophomore Johnathon Johnson found Ansay open near the blue line and the two combined for the Rams’ first goal of the game, five minutes into the second period.

The Wildcats once again answered in the period, taking advantage of their short-term stand in the Rams’ zone. 

The third period was more of the same as both teams jockeyed for leverage.

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“Despite the score … we put it together and played well in all three zones,” said Caseria. “Things (weren’t) working this weekend. We (weren’t) entering the zone with a lot of speed and creativity. But we’re just trying to do the dirty things: get the puck to the net and get rebounds.”

In the last minute of the game, the Rams pulled McDonnell to garner a personal advantage, but the visitors sealed the Rams’ fate with an open-net goal. 

“They’re a great team,” Caseria said of the Wildcats. “They get in front of the puck well and (took) away our options.”

Player shoots the puck
Jonathon Johnson (3) shoots the puck into the goal for CSU’s first point. (Devin Cornelius | Collegian)

Coming into their second leg of their Wildcat’s matchups, the Rams sought redemption, winless on the weekend. The Wildcats buried two in the net early, enabling a comeback opportunity for the hosts.

Sophomore Noah Miller scored off an assist from junior Aksel Campbell at the tail-end of the first period to keep the Rams in the game. The early goal was their quickest score of the weekend. 

After a weekend of miscues, the Rams were given an opportunity to take advantage of a Wildcats’ cross-check, putting them down a player for the game’s remaining minutes. 

Instead, they answered back with a penalty of their own, forcing them to play 4-on-4 in the early moments of their power play chance. Then, up a man once again, the Rams fell prey to a another cross-check, eliminating yet another Wildcat from the ice, creating a 5-on-3 advantage. 

This chance proved fruitful for the Rams.

Joseph tied the game at two — for the second time of the weekend — with assists from Gillis and Ansay. The tie was short-lived as the Wildcats scored two more goals on Rams’ penalty kills before the game was over, adding to the previous total of three goals given up on penalties by the Rams. 

Forced to pull their goalie once more, the Rams allowed another empty-net goal, sealing a winless weekend.

“Goals aren’t easy,” Caseria said. “The puck just wasn’t bouncing our way… we figure that out with hard work. We just have to … keep working and stay the course.”

The Rams left their homestand 1-5 in the WCHL and 2-6 overall.

The Rams now have a significant break in their schedule, not playing again until Nov. 1 when they travel to the University of Arkansas.

Ashley Potts can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @ashleypotts09.