Rough start

By By Natalie Dicou and By Natalie Dicou

By Natalie Dicou

Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, it’s going to take a while for the U hockey team to get on track.

The Utes suffered an 18-3 beating to Utah State in its first game in three years Friday although they look to rebuild a program that was on the verge of gaining Division I status in 2003.

And that’s fine with head coach Bob Wilkinson, who has realistic expectations for a team that suits up just one player with college hockey experience-Mike Wilcox, who proved to be a bright spot for the fledgling team, scoring all three of Utah’s goals.

The postgame morale might have been dire under another coach, but Wilkinson’s style is positive and laidback.

“These kids, they play at six in the morning, they have to pay all this money, they work, they go to school, they displayed their hearts today,” Wilkinson said.

From the get-go, Utah, which has been practicing together for just four weeks, was outplayed by Utah State. Before two minutes had ticked off the clock, the Utes were down 1-0. It was a lead that just kept getting more insurmountable as the Aggies continued to score at will throughout the first period, building an 8-0 lead in the first 17 minutes of the game before Wilcox put the Utes on the board with the first goal of his hat trick.

“Look at each period as a game,” Wilkinson said.

By the end of the first period, the score was a disappointing 10-1. But the second period was an improvement for the Utes as they held the heavily favored Aggies to five goals. And the third period was a definite moral victory for the Utes, as they tightened up their defense, giving up three goals while scoring two themselves.

The speedy skating and deft stickwork of Wilcox led to two breakaway goals-one of which was shorthanded.

“I see some improvement going on,” Wilkinson said. “Now we have an idea of the speed. I’m very happy with the way we played.”

The Utes suited up just 15 players while the Aggies suited up 21.

“Some of my guys got a little tired,” Wilkinson said.

“A real positive is, usually when you get way ahead or way down, you start doing cheap stuff,” Wilkinson said, noting that his players never resorted to that.

The Utes will work on their fitness and defense this week in preparation for Friday’s game at UVSC.