Twice bitten

By By Natalie Dicou and By Natalie Dicou

By Natalie Dicou

Convincing university authorities to restore the Utah hockey club was a tough task for the players who spearheaded the effort. But getting the team back may seem like a stroll in Liberty Park compared with the current challenge: taking the ice against highly skilled teams with established programs.

“These guys are winners; they want to win,” said head coach Bob Wilkinson about his players. “They’re competitors. They hate losing-they hate it.”

But losing is something the Utes are becoming accustomed to in their first year back on the ice.

This weekend was particularly brutal for the team, as it lost 10-3 to the Jr. Wildcats, an 18-and-under team, followed by a massacre by Utah State 20-0 on Saturday in Logan, dropping to 0-6 on the season.

Friday’s loss to the Jr. Wildcats, a team made up of some of the state’s best youth players, was a humbling experience for the Utes.

“We underestimated who they were,” Wilkinson said. “They’re a good little team.”

After falling to a 9-1 deficit with five minutes remaining in the game, Utah came on strong in the final minutes, scoring two goals on the shorthanded Jr. Wildcats.

“We didn’t really play up to our level,” said Parker Phipps, who scored Utah’s first two goals and assisted on the third. “I think we lost that game because we came in overconfident.”

Three of Utah’s top players didn’t play in the Jr. Wildcats game because they were either out of town or injured. The number of absentees increased to six for the Utah State game.

With six key players out, the Utes didn’t stand much of a chance against the Aggies, who beat them 18-3 in the season opener and did even more damage the second time around.

But Wilkinson said the game provided a good opportunity for lesser-used players to get some playing time and demonstrate what they’re capable of.

One bright spot for the Utes is forward Chris Megath, who is a new addition to the team. Megath scored Utah’s third goal on Friday but suffered a shoulder injury on Saturday, which may keep him out of play for a few weeks.

The Utes play on both Friday and Saturday night again this weekend when they take on BYU and Weber State. Both are on the road.

Kim Peterson

Ute hockey player Cole Fisher takes a swing during last weekend’s meeting with UVSC.