No. 18 Utah Men’s Hockey Sweeps Oregon to Close First Half of Season


Kevin Cody

University of Utah men’s hockey player Steven Pawlow (Photo by Kevin Cody | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Chase Mullin, Assistant Sports Editor


On Friday night, while the University of Utah football team was securing the Pac-12 Championship and a spot in the Rose Bowl with a complete steamrolling of the University of Oregon, the No. 18 University of Utah men’s hockey team was busy with some duck hunting of their own. On home ice, the Skatin’ Utes dominated the first of a two-game series against the University of Oregon.

Sporting their all-black uniforms, the Utes controlled possession throughout the first period, outshooting the Ducks 14-5 in the first frame, but were met with a flurry of saves from Oregon netminder Henry Bradford. After pressing the entire period, the Utes finally broke through with a little over 20 seconds remaining in the first when Utes’ forward Mckay Pond tapped in a shot-pass from forward Che Landikusic, giving Utah a 1-0 lead heading into the intermission.

The second period was more evenly matched, and although Utah outshot Oregon 14-5 in the first period, Oregon would respond by outshooting the Utes 10-8 in the second. Oregon would equalize with a goal late in the period, making the score 1-1 going into the final period of regulation.

It didn’t take long for the Utes to regain control of the game, as Utes’ defenseman Steven Pawlow would score for the Utes 33 seconds into the third, and the Utes would not look back the rest of the way. Hanging on to a one-goal lead, the Utes would control the momentum throughout the third and put the icing on the cake with an empty-net goal from Utes’ leading scorer Wyatt Light, securing a 3-1 victory over the Ducks.

While the Utes won the first of this two-game series in relatively convincing fashion, the game was still close until the end. Saturday’s game, however, was an entirely different story. After absolutely dominating the first period by outshooting the Ducks 18-4, the Utes only found themselves up 1-0 going into the second, thanks to a goal from forward Alexander King.

A common trend for the Utes this season has been outshooting opponents by a wide margin, but still going through stretches where the team couldn’t quite find the back of the net. It has seemed at times throughout the year that the Utes’ offense has been a bomb waiting to be set off, and in the second period, the Utes finally exploded.

The Utes would score four unanswered goals in the second, including goals from Wyatt Light, Che Landikusic, Dylan Dix and Landon Langenbrunner, giving Utah a 5-0 lead. Oregon would tally a short-handed goal with a minute remaining in the second, but any hopes the Ducks had of a miracle comeback were quickly destroyed on a power play goal from Utah forward Mckay Pond thirty seconds later.

Utah forward Che Landikusic would add another goal for the Utes a little over a minute into the third period, and the Utes cruised to a 7-1 victory. Utes goaltender, Landon Anderson, would stop 17 of 18 shots on Saturday and 40 of 42 shots total over the weekend, good enough for an impressive .952 save percentage in the series. Overall, the Utes were in control of the Ducks all weekend.

“We were able to find some more consistency in our game and play a committed unselfish style for a full 60 minutes,” said Utes assistant captain Dylan Dix. “We have had some off periods and stretches in games that have cost us, and we were finally able to find that consistency.” 

The Skatin’ Utes now have a break in their schedule, as they are not back in action until they face the University of Colorado on Jan. 28-29. At essentially the midpoint in their season, the Utes have had mixed feelings about their performance in the first half of the season, but the team is still in a position to reach nationals in March and cap off one of their best seasons on record.

“We took some really good steps as a program this semester,” Dix said. “We had the highest M1 ranking in program history at #15 for a couple of weeks and have been much more competitive than previous years. Looking back there are probably 3-4 games that we ended up beating ourselves which is tough, but overall it has been an exciting year.”

Indeed, the Utes have had a handful of games where they outshot their opponents by a significant amount as well as tough overtime and shootout losses that did not fall their way. Still, the Utes have been a tough team for opponents to face so far this season, as they have held their ground and beaten some of the top teams in the nation. For now, the Utes will look to stay sharp over break in order to come out strong in the second half.


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