Ute hockey looks for first win in home opener

By By Natalie Dicou and By Natalie Dicou

By Natalie Dicou

The U club hockey team faces a tough test in its home opener tonight when it goes up against Weber State, a team that U hockey club president J.M. LeCointre expects to be “about the caliber of Utah State.” The Aggies thrashed the Utes 18-3 in the first game of the season two weeks ago.

The Utes will be led by team captain Mike Wilcox, the one Ute player with international hockey experience.

“I played for a team from Canada,” Wilcox said. “We went over to Europe. I have a lot of experience over there.”

And that experience has helped the Utes immensely. Wilcox has scored six of the team’s eight goals of the season.

Even though Utah has lost its first two contests, Wilcox’s back-to-back hat tricks infused the rookie team with energy and confidence.

“Lately this year, I’ve been lucky with goals,” said the humble forward, who played for Weber State’s Division-I team last year but didn’t see much playing time. “The guys are setting me up. They’re just shooting the puck on net and I’m just there for the rebound.”

Wilcox is a quick, exciting player who seems to intrinsically know where to position himself on the ice to give himself the best opportunity to score.

In the past, Wilcox has traditionally been a playmaker known more for his assists than his goal-scoring, he said.

“This is the highest level I’ve actually had a hat trick at,” he said.

Wilcox said he believes the most significant improvement his team has made since the beginning of the season has been the increased team “camaraderie.”

“(Camaraderie) makes a team,” he said. “If you hate everybody on your team, you’re not going to play well, so we basically have come together as friends. We play around out on the ice and that helps a lot because we’re not afraid to make mistakes and fall down.”

Wilcox transferred to the U to join the Navy ROTC.

“That’s basically my life,” he said of his military plans. “Hockey’s second to me.”

The Utes will take on Weber State’s Division II team, which features several players that once played for the Wildcats’ Division-I team but have since lost eligibility.

“If we can keep our noses clean and move the puck, we’ll be fine,” U head coach Bob Wilkinson said. “(If we) skate hard and win the one-on-one battles out there, we’ll be in fine shape.”

Wilkinson has a philosophy on how he believes hockey should be played, and it’s all about unselfishness and teamwork.

“So much now, we see the great skaters try to take the puck all the way up the ice, I want to avoid that,” Wilkinson said. “When I pass the puck to you, it means I trust you, you’re my teammate.”

Tonight’s game, along with next week’s home game against UVSC, will be free to the public. The puck drops at 8 p.m. at Steiner Ice Rink.

Kim Peterson

The U hockey club plays host for the first time this season as Weber State comes to the Steiner Ice Rink.