According to hockey head coach Eric Ballard, his University of Colorado men’s team did not play like true Buffaloes Friday night against Colorado State University at the Budweiser Event Center. Colorado fell to CSU, 3-2.
“We played lethargic hockey,” Ballard said after the game. “We turned the puck over in bad areas.”
Although the offensive organization may have been sub-par, the Buffs managed to keep up with Colorado State’s pace in the first period. With 17 combined shots on goal, neither team was able to find the back of the net in those first twenty minutes of play.
CU captain Hurley Kane did not count the team out after the first.
“We came out a little flat in the first period, but ended up battling back,” he said.
Colorado began to build momentum after the break, controlling the puck for the first eight minutes of play. Unfortunately, three consecutive shots on goal at 2:12 and an initial power play opportunity at 2:39 were not enough to yield a goal for the Buffs. Four minutes in, Colorado’s ice advantage moved to 5-on-3 after Colorado State suffered a second two-minute penalty. After a Buffs turnover, the Rams’ penalty kill was successful, and the momentum swung fully to the team in green for the final minutes of the second.
Before the second intermission, Colorado State’s 21st shot on goal at 17:54 converted to a point on the ice, causing tension that led to a fight on the other end between CSU junior Nick Sutton and Colorado freshman David Coleman. Sutton was given a five-minute fighting penalty that bled into the third period and Coleman got off with two minutes for roughing.
Up until the third period, freshman goaltender Alex Palumbo had made multiple saves from close-range shots. Coach Ballard stressed the importance of a good Palumbo performance for a Buffs victory.
“If Alex doesn’t play the game he needs to, then we don’t stay in the game,” Ballard said.
Palumbo saw much more action in the third period, when Colorado State managed to get two more past him at 7:45 and 16:54. The Buffaloes were able to answer two of the three Rams goals, both of which were shot by sophomore forward Richard Wigton.
“I was just in the right spot at the right time,” Wigton said about his points. “It’s always frustrating getting a goal and having them get one right back. We have a tendency to get down on ourselves, but I feel like tonight we didn’t give up. They just answered back…and they outplayed us.”
Although the Buffs were out-skated in the final period in Loveland, “tomorrow is a new day,” said Ballard, when the Buffs and Rams play a rematch Saturday at CU’s rec center.
“As bad as we played, we didn’t give up,” he said. “There were spurts of energy that created some opportunity and some goals, but the guys need to come out tomorrow with a heck of a lot more intensity than they did tonight.”
Kane agrees with Ballard, understanding that a home ice advantage may be the perfect way to find redemption.
“We’re going back home, and we’ll be in front of our fans, so I’m pretty excited and I think the boys are pretty excited too,” he said.
Tickets to Saturday night’s game are available at the Rec Center Ice Arena.
Contact CU Independent Assistant Sports Editor Jordyn Siemens at firstname.lastname@example.org