Utah Men’s Hockey Tops Arizona State in Classic Game to Split Weekend Series

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Kevin Cody

Sophomore goalie, Landon Anderson is positioned in the butterfly to block a shot headed towards him in a game against Arizona State University in Salt Lake City on October 23, 2021. (Photo by Kevin Cody | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Chase Mullin

 

The Skatin’ Utes split their home weekend series against WCHL rivals Arizona State. The Utes fell to Arizona State in a tough 7-4 loss on Friday, but bounced back to win 4-3 on Saturday in a classic game. 

Friday’s game saw a strong start from the Utes, as they took a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals from Michael Urtis and Benjamin Mickel. Arizona State, however, would storm back to score six unanswered goals, including a four-goal second period from the Sun Devils.

After a demoralizing second period, Utah responded in the third period with some of the best hockey they’ve played all season. Goals from Ethan Light and Landon Langenbrunner cut Sun Devil’s lead to 6-4 in the third. Utah tallied 27 shots on goal in the third period, which was equivalent to Arizona State’s shot total for the entire game.

With two minutes left and the Utes firing away shots relentlessly, however, Utah turned the puck over on their offensive blue line, where Arizona State forward Damon Porter stormed the length of the ice on a breakaway and scored to put the game away. The sense of deflation and disheartenment from the Utes after the goal could be felt all throughout Salt Lake City Sports Complex.

Despite throwing 51 shots on goal, the Utes were met with outstanding goaltending performance from Arizona State’s Blake Bjella, who made 47 saves in the 7-4 Sun Devil victory. 

Saturday’s contest was arguably the most entertaining game of the season for the Utes. The Sun Devils struck twice in the first period for a 2-0 lead, which they maintained well into the second period. Arizona State goaltender Blake Bjella picked up where he left off from the night before, as he was lights out, especially during the first half of the game.

Roughly 13 minutes into the second period the Utes went on the power play, and Utes forward Che Landikusic sniped a wrist shot into the net to get the Utes on the board. From this point on, the Utes looked like a different team.

“The first power play was definitely big for us scoring ten seconds in. From there we built off that momentum” said Utes forward Benjamin Mickel.

With less than a minute to go in the second and the Utes back on the power play, forward Wyatt Light sent a cross-ice pass to his brother, Ethan Light, who was positioned at the top of the left face-off dot. Ethan channeled his inner Pavel Datsyuk, with an ankle-breaking deke past an Arizona State defender right into the slot, where he fired a wrist shot past Bjella to tie the game.

Two and a half minutes into the third period, Benjamin Mickel put the Utes ahead on a backhand shot from the slot. The lead was short-lived, however, as Arizona State tied the game a little over five minutes later.

As mentioned previously, Saturday’s game was a classic, and there is no such thing as a classic hockey game without at least one brawl between the teams. With around nine minutes remaining in the third, a scramble in front of the Utes net led to an Arizona State forward checking Utes defensemen Ethan Noonan into the goal, completely dislodging the net.

Immediately, Utes goaltender Landon Anderson, who was less than pleased by the cheap shot to his defenseman, went right after the Arizona State forward, throwing him to the ground behind the net. Everyone on the ice rushed to the source, chaos ensued, and of course, the crowd loved every second of it.

With four minutes and seven seconds left in regulation, Utes defenseman Cole Musick threw a puck on net from the blue line which Utes forward Luke Moeller tipped in for what would turn out to be the game winning goal, finishing off an extremely entertaining game.

When asked what went right for the Utes on Saturday, Benjamin Mickel stated

“I think we just simplified our game in the second and third period. We had good puck management, got pucks behind the defense, and honestly just got a lot of shots off,” said Mickel, who followed this statement with the classic hockey press conference quote “just gotta get pucks deep and get pucks to the net.”

Overall, Utah out-shot Arizona State 40-25 on Saturday, and 91-52 over the course of the two-game series. The Utes now look forward to next weekend as they travel to Tucson to face the University of Arizona.

 

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