Utah Men’s Hockey Splits Series against Grand Canyon University

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Kevin Cody

Sophomore forward Che Landikusic is positioned in front of the opposing goalie’s net in a first-period scoring chance against the University of Nevada Las Vegas in Salt Lake City on Nov. 13, 2021. (Photo by Kevin Cody | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Chase Mullin

 

The 18th-ranked University of Utah men’s hockey team traveled to Phoenix this past weekend to face off against WCHL foe the 26th-ranked Grand Canyon University Antelopes, in a two-game series. After a tough sweep at the hands of the 5th-ranked University of Nevada, Las Vegas on home ice last weekend, the Utes came into this weekend with a sense of urgency knowing that they essentially need to win out in order to ensure a trip to nationals in March, with Grand Canyon University being arguably the toughest opponent standing in the Utes’ way of accomplishing this feat.

Game 1

In one of the most exciting games the Utes have played all season, Utah came out firing on Friday night. A power-play goal seven minutes into the first period from Utes’ defenseman Dylan Dix put Utah on the board, but the Antelopes equalize with four minutes remaining in the opening frame.

Midway through the second, the Utes’ power-play struck again, as forward McKay Pond gave the Utes the lead again. Once again, Utah’s lead was relatively short-lived, as GCU would score to tie the game with less than five minutes remaining in the period and follow up by taking the lead on another goal just two minutes later.

The third period was deadlocked until roughly five minutes remaining in regulation when Grand Canyon University defensemen would take a two-minute penalty for checking from behind, putting the Utes back on the man advantage. The Utes’ power-play unit then did what they do best: score. A power-play goal from Utah forward Benjamin Mickel tied the game and with roughly a minute and a half remaining, Pond would tally his second goal of the night, putting the Utes ahead by one and ultimately sealing a much needed 4-3 victory for Utah.

Game 2

The Utes’ momentum from Friday night did not carry over to Saturday. The Antelopes scored just 62 seconds into the contest. Utah would answer relatively quickly with a goal four minutes later by forward, Alexander King, but GCU would rattle off four unanswered goals, giving them a 5-1 lead before the game had even reached its halfway mark.

The Skatin’ Utes, however, would make the game interesting with second-period goals from forwards Che Landikusic and Wyatt Light, making it a two-goal contest going into the final frame of regulation.

The Utes dominated the third period, and it looked like a comeback might be on the horizon until GCU scored with ten minutes remaining in regulation. Despite outshooting by a whopping 20-8 margin in the third period, the Utes were unable to convert any scoring chances until Utah forward Cole Musick scored with just over three and half minutes remaining in the game. 

If there was a single game that represented the Utes’ season up to this point, it was Saturday’s game. The Utes outshot their opponent and controlled a large portion of the game, but it simply did not fall in the Utes’ favor.

Utah now looks forward to their next home series against the University of Oregon on Dec. 3 and 4.

 

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