Hockey faces rival BYU

By By Natalie Dicou

By Natalie Dicou

The U hockey team should take heart: When the Utah Jazz played its first season in Salt Lake City in 1979, it won just 29 percent of its games-and all it did was move to a new town.

The Utes, on the other hand, started from scratch this fall. The team was defunct for three years and it took two ambitious hockey-lovers to get the Utes back on the ice.

With a completely new roster and a new coach, it hasn’t been easy for the team, which has lost every game it has played this fall. Some losses have been devastating blowouts, while others have been competitive. But the result is always the same and, understandably, it has worn on the players.

“A lot of players are having fun,” said hockey club Vice President Jason Petho, but at the same time, “the constant losses are annoying them and it’s definitely building up to the point where we need to make some changes.”

One issue the team plans to address is conditioning. The Utes have been neck-and-neck with teams through two periods in a few outings, but in the third period, Utah has often felt fatigued and has fallen apart.

But there’s no easy fix. While other teams have ample ice time to get into playing shape, the Utes-many of which are working their way through school- can’t afford more than a few hours of on-ice practice time a week.

That leaves players to work out individually off the ice, which hasn’t gotten the same results that conditioning as a team would likely yield.

On Friday, the Utes will continue plugging away at their punishing schedule when they face the BYU IceCats. In the last meeting between the rival squads, the IceCats handed the Utes a crushing 14-2 defeat. But the Utes welcome the challenge.

“We expect a hard game and we know we’ll get it,” Petho said.

Two players who have recovered from injuries will rejoin the team.

Chris Megath, who suffered a shoulder injury during a contest against UVSC, will take to the ice for the first time in several weeks.

He’ll be joined by forward Alex Stevens, who broke his leg prior to the season. Stevens will, at last, make his debut in a Utah uniform.

“This will be a good barometer of where we’ve come,” said Skatin’ Utes head coach Bob Wilkinson.

The BYU game is the last chance for fans to watch the Utes for more than a month when the schedule starts back up in January.

The puck drops at the Steiner Ice Rink on Friday at 8:45 p.m.