Special to The Sun
Freshman Thierry Martine notched his first hat trick of his collegiate career, Sophomore Tory Caldwell went 15-for-16 on saves in net, and the University of Central Oklahoma Bronchos steamrolled the Rams of Colorado State University 5-1 in a clash of future Western Collegiate Hockey League members Thursday at the Arctic Edge Ice Arena.
The No. 16 Bronchos (18-12) have been on a 7-1 run since opening 2013, including a win over Niagara University that the Purple Eagles won, but forfeited due to an ineligible player. The Rams (13-10-3) will continue on to two games against the University of Oklahoma before returning to Division II play.
The Rams came out fast and aggressive as both sides were dominated by superior goaltending play on limited shot opportunities thanks to stifling defenses. Martine got the Bronchos on the board first late in the first period off an assist by freshman Riley Spraggs and team captain Matt Prigge, beating Corson Cramer to give UCO a 1-0 lead going into the break.
The Bronchos entered the second period spitting fire, with two goals coming in quick succession within the first three minutes courtesy of a beauty of a slapshot from inside the left circle by sophomore Peter Kressner, followed shortly by a powerplay chip shot over Cramer’s blocker by assistant captain Anthony Knuth. Martine’s second goal came with six minutes remaining in the frame, prompting CSU head coach Kelly Newton to pull Cramer in favor of freshman backup Alex Steidler. The Rams took advantage of a UCO defensive breakdown late in the frame, when Connor Tamai snapped one in over Caldwell’s back to pull CSU within three, and UCO lead 4-1 at the break.
Colorado State tried desperately to close that gap further in the third, but was unable to solve the UCO defensive scheme, able to only make four shots on Caldwell. When Martine extended the Bronchos’ lead to four off a pass by junior Don Geary, the final nail was hammered in to the Rams’ coffin.
The Bronchos will have an extended break before they welcome their next opponent Friday, Feb. 1 when the Iowa State Cyclones visit the Arctic Edge. The two sides split a series earlier this season in Ames, with the Bronchos notching a shootout victory before falling in regulation.
Faceoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $7, $5 for UCO students and faculty with ID, and free for children under five.