Brighton, MICH – The 8th ranked Colorado State University Rams got nine saves from redshirt freshman Jake Bender (Evergreen HS; Evergreen CO) and a goal with :06 left in the second overtime by sophomore A.J. Stewart (Fort Collins HS; Fort Collins, CO) to cap off an exciting game against #22 Michigan State on Saturday night. Neither team led by more than two goals in a thoroughly entertaining battle in front of a boisterous crowd at the Legacy Center in Brighton, MI as the Rams took the win 9-8.
CSU led 2-1 after one period and 5-3 at halftime. The Spartans scored four out of the next five goals spanning the third quarter and early portion of the fourth to take a 7-6 lead with 10:44 remaining. Chase Warner (Tesoro HS; Mission Viejo, CA) answered back for CSU with two goals in just over two minutes to give the Rams the lead again at 8-7. But then Michigan State’s Jack Van Acker scored an acrobatic goal just left of the crease with 4:54 remaining in regulation to send the teams to overtime.
Both teams had chances in the first but were unable to convert. The defenses stood tall for each squad during the second overtime as well until Stewart took his man behind the goal and beat MSU goalie Matt Allemang on a wrap-around shot to finish the proceedings with just :06 remaining.
Bender made his first start of the year for the Rams and went the distance, holding his own against last year’s MCLA first-team All America goaltender Matt Allemang for the Spartans. Michigan State had five shots in the first overtime period, but Bender stood tall and helped the CSU defense keep a team under ten goals for the first time in three games. Allemang finished the game with 15 saves, including three in the two overtime periods.
Warner led all scorers with four goals for the Rams. Ashton Monheiser (Mountain Vista HS; Highlands Ranch, CO) and Stewart joined sophomore defensive midfielder Sean Sullivan (Heritage HS; Littleton, CO) with two points as well. Van Acker’s three goals led the Spartans, who also got two points each from Mackenzie Ensley and Nicholas Melucci.
The teams were relatively even in all categories, thanks in large part to the herculean effort by CSU senior face-off man Brian Roach (Wheat Ridge HS; Westminster, CO), who battled all night with first-team All-America face-off specialist Joseph Mikkelsen for Michigan State. In the end, the Rams took 12 of 22 draws on the evening.
Colorado State (7-4 overall; 1-0 RMLC) doesn’t have much time to celebrate the victory as they move on to take on Davenport University on Sunday afternoon. The game will be CSU’s last non-conference contest of the season before a bye week leads them into a three game RMLC road-trip on the second weekend of April. Michigan State, who was coming off an impressive victory over #3 Colorado, gets some time off as well before taking on Western Michigan on April 9.