Hockey applies more structure to team

By By Jake Bullinger and By Jake Bullinger

By Jake Bullinger

With the Skatin’ Utes’ season set to begin Sept. 26, there is an atmosphere of anticipation and optimism at the Salt Lake City Sports Complex. Now that practices are under way, the Utah men’s ice hockey team is poised for improvement on a season in which it went 6-7 during Spring Semester.

“We are ahead of where I thought we’d be with so few practices,” said first-year head coach Jon Bertagnolli.

Bertagnolli said fans will see a different hockey team from last year’s squad, citing a more structured defense and an offense focusing on puck possession. The Ute squad hopes to maximize speed while cutting down on turnovers.

Although the coaching staff’s strategy changes will aid in the Utes’ quest to add to last season’s win total, their approach will only be beneficial if the players provide a cumulative team effort. Hard work is a concept that Bertagnolli’s staff has stressed in their team during the first few practices.

“You can expect us to go out and compete in every game, from the drop of the puck until the final horn sounds,” Bertagnolli said. The Skatin’ Utes will be anchored by returning players such as defenseman Charles German (23 points in 30 games last season), forwards Michael Vrtis (57 points in 29 games) and Ian McKelvie (24 points in 12 games) and goalie AJ Boldan.

Boldan, who is the team president as well as the starting goalie, said he feels that the experience of the returning players coupled with the new talent will lead to a very productive season.

“We want to go well above .500, and I think we are poised to do that,” Boldan said. “We want to cement the building blocks for the future.”

The Utah hockey team will play 16 games this fall, including five at home, before heading into its 17-game spring schedule.

Utah opens the season with a two-game series at Mesa State University in Grand Junction, Colo.

Its first home series is against Boise State, with games Oct. 2 and 3 at 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., respectively. All residents of the dormitories qualify for free admission Oct. 2, and members of the One Love club get free admission on Oct. 3. Both games will be played at the Salt Lake City Sports Complex, just south of campus.

For more information on ticket prices or to view the full schedule, visit universityofutahhockey.com.

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