Men’s hockey plays Western Michigan in pair of weekend games

Brandon Kruse

Colorado State University hockey (0-1) will host the Western Michigan Broncos (0-1) on back-to-back nights Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and 7 p.m. respectively. This will be CSU’s first action since their season opener back on Sept. 19, when they lost a heartbreaker to Midland University 2-1 in a shootout. As for Western Michigan, they’ll be coming off a miserable performance against Adrian College where they lost 8-1.

Though it was a slow offensive development against Midland, the Rams were able to limit the Warriors to only one goal in regulation. Exceptional defense enabled CSU to stay competitive and ultimately led them to even up the score at one with 51 seconds remaining in the third period, courtesy of a Noah Miller goal. Unfortunately for CSU, however, Midland would secure the victory in a shootout.

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Nearly three weeks later, CSU will welcome Western Michigan, a team that also fell in their opening matchup, for a doubleheader.

“We’ve had a few weeks off and are excited to get back out there,” junior forward Liam Millar said. “We’ve been working hard with practices and workouts the last few weeks, and now it’s time to show it in the game.”

Player races to the puck
Liam Millar (15) races to beat the Utah defender down the rink. The Rams beat the Utes 6-3. (Devin Cornelius | Collegian)

As a result, here are three points of emphasis for the Rams ahead of their matchup against the Broncos.

1) Applying continuous pressure

CSU will need to apply pressure on the forecheck to generate turnovers, which should result in more shots on goal. They succeeded at this their first game (registered 48 shots against Midland) and will make it a case of stress once again. Western Michigan struggled in the turnover department against Adrian College.

For this reason, expect CSU to establish plenty of pressure on Western Michigan on their end of the ice, leading to defensive turnovers that should yield more shots on goal for CSU.

2) Attack the net on rushes

The Rams did record 48 shots against Midland, but only one of those shots ended up in the back of the net. A major reason for this was an inadequate number of quality scoring chances. CSU was unable to attack the slot consistently, especially on rushes from the neutral zone. As a result, CSU will need to crash the net and find openings on the attack against Western Michigan to produce quality scoring chances.

3) Win special teams

Finally, CSU will need to win on special teams, both offensively and defensively. They were zero for six on the power play against Midland, and Western Michigan is an aggressive club, committing eight penalties against Adrian College. CSU will get their chances on the man advantage, and they need to execute.

The Rams will also need to stay out of the penalty box. They committed 10 penalties against Midland (two of them were roughing minors that didn’t result in Warrior power plays because Midland also received two roughing minors). Nonetheless, cracking down on penalties should allow CSU to win the power play ratio and increase their chances of exiting the Edora Pool Ice Center with a victory (or two).

It has been nearly three weeks since the Rams stepped onto the ice for a matchup. With a heartbreaking loss on opening night, the Rams are still yearning for that first win of the season. A win this Friday and Saturday would certainly bolster their season outlook.

Brandon Kruse can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @BrandonKruse9.

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