Hockey falls to BYU in weekend rivalry series

By By Jake Bullinger

By Jake Bullinger

Last weekend’s rivalry series with BYU had nearly everything a Utah fan could want. The games were gripping and brought out the largest crowds of the season. The fans were raucous, with familiar anti-BYU chants coming from Utah students. Fast-paced, physical hockey was on display, and it was entertaining. It was a great weekend for Skatin’ Utes fans, save for one ingredient8212;the Utes failed to earn a win in either game.

Although Utah found itself trailing early in Friday’s match, both games were lost in the third period. BYU scored twice in the first 68 seconds of the third period in Friday’s game, increasing its lead to 5-0. The goals deflated the Utah players and fans as BYU went on to win 7-2, but the players seemed unconcerned by BYU’s early success.

“We didn’t feel out of it,” said forward Andrew Reed. “The two goals at the start of the third are what hurt.”

“The first one to get the goal is going to set the momentum for that period, and they just happened to get that first one,” said defenseman Charles German regarding BYU’s third-period barrage.

Saturday, the Utes took a lead going into the third period. They were leading 3-1 when the Cougars found their offensive rhythm from the night before. From that point on, it was all BYU.

The Cougars proceeded to score three straight goals, with the game-winner coming in the final minute of play. The Utes were forced to leave Provo empty-handed.

“We had just a heart-breaker,” said Utah head coach Jon Bertagnolli. “BYU is just a good club. We had plenty of scoring chances and just couldn’t get it in the net.”

The Utes were outshot 69-40 Friday, but they had multiple looks that should have yielded goals well before their first with 13:54 left in the third period.

Robert Repko had an opportunity to punch in a rebound in the first period, but failed to do so. Less than two minutes into the second, Ian McKelvie, Utah’s leading scorer, had a one-on-one opportunity and didn’t capitalize on it.

One of these scoring opportunities in the second period might have actually been a goal. It appeared that the Utes had squeezed the puck past the BYU goaltender after multiple deflections, but the referees declared that the puck actually did not cross the goal line.

Despite the negative outcome of the weekend, Bertagnolli pointed out the positive aspects of Utah’s performance.

“We…came back and competed Saturday,” he said. “It’s not that we relaxed or we let up in the third period. We played hard the entire game.”

Utah will have to rebound from its rough weekend to prepare for two difficult upcoming games. The Utes play at Weber State on Friday and return home Saturday to face Utah State. Both games will be at 8:30 p.m.

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