The University of Colorado men’s club hockey team squared off against the Colorado State Rams Thursday night at the Pepsi Center in Denver. It would be a Rocky Mountain Center Ice Showdown to remember, as the Buffs beat up on the Rams and won 8-2.
Colorado, which competes as a Division I club team in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA), improved to 20-7 in its final regular season game of the year by dispatching the Rams (9-24). The Buffs have now defeated the Rams in three straight games.
“CU vs. CSU games are always fun,” said head coach Eric Ballard. “To win the in-state rivalry games is always good for us. Couldn’t be happier. I’m real happy for the guys.”
After losing the opening face-off, the Buffaloes quickly took the lead thanks to a goal by forward Matt Anders just 26 seconds into the game. Forward Chris Burkemper and left winger Thomas Jarman picked up assists on the goal.
Anders would have himself quite the night, as he recorded a hat trick in the first period of play. He would add an assist later in the game, and finished the evening with four points.
“Matt Anders showed up and played a full 60 minutes tonight. I’m real happy for Matt and he reaped the benefits,” Ballard said.
After Colorado went up 3-0, the Rams answered with a goal of their own by forward Nicholas O’Donnell to cut CSU’s deficit to two. It would be the Rams’ last goal until the last five minutes of the third period.
For the entirety of the game, the Buffs kept pressure on the Rams, keeping the puck in the offensive zone and foiling most of Colorado State’s attempts to find any offensive rhythm.
“Our speed was something that stifled their defense,” Anders said. “We were using that speed to go wide and go past them [which] really [made] them back up a little bit.”
Colorado’s offense was nothing short of relentless Thursday night. On the season, the Buffs have been averaging 14.6 shots on goal per game. They recorded 37 against the Rams, outshooting them by nine.
The game was also quite the penalty-palooza, as the Buffs and Rams combined for 14 minor penalties in the game which equalled 28 total minutes in the dog house.
Colorado’s Jake Bauer was also a force to be reckoned with in Thursday night’s game, as the right winger recorded two goals and an assist in the win. Jarman was also a key architect of the win. He netted a power play goal in the third period and had two assists, as well.
Forwards Luke Carter and Christopher Doyle accounted for the Buffs’ other two goals.
“Our team is really good about moving the puck around and getting everybody involved,” Anders said.
From a defensive perspective, the Buffs were backed by goaltender Colin Champine, who saved 26 out of 28 shots in the win, including a penalty shot by the Rams’ Hunter Clark in the first period.
“Colin is a big reason of where we’re at,” Ballard said. “He played solid in the net.”
For the Buffs, the regular season is over. However, stay tuned for more University of Colorado hockey, as CU will head to the annual national championships in just over a week.
Robert Morris University Illinois will host the tournament and the Buffaloes will take on Iowa State Saturday March 5 in Bensenville, Illinois.