The BYU hockey team struggled to focus in the first period in Friday’s game, leading to a tough 6-1 loss against the rival Utah Utes.
The action started when Utah scored three quick goals in the first minutes of the game, causing BYU hockey’s coach Ed Gantt to call a timeout. It seemed that BYU was falling into its same habits of last week’s game in conceding early goals.
The timeout wasn’t enough to stop the Utes, as the first period ended 4-0 after another Utah goal.
“We came out really physical in that second period,” forward Axel Boyer said. “And that’s when we started to see things change.”
The Cougars came out of the first intermission increased determination and were able to hold Utah to a scoreless period, something no other team in the league has yet been able to do. According to Boyer, this was because of how hard BYU started hitting Utah.
With close to five minutes left in the game, Boyer scored BYU’s only goal, right out of a Utah power play, to finally put the Cougars on the scoreboard.
Yet, in the last minutes of the game, Utah scored two more goals for the win.
Gantt didn’t attribute the loss to any specific weakness in his team’s skills but in the lack of discipline in executing their structured game plan.
“We were kind of freelancing it out there instead of sticking to the systems that we’ve been practicing and practicing and practicing,” Gantt said. “The fault was not in our strategy, was not in the scouting, was not in the coaching; it was in the execution.”
Utah won 13-0 the last time these two teams met. For BYU hockey, this means the program is headed in the right direction, albeit slowly.
The team will return to the basics in practice this week, as Gantt feels a need for retrospection and conditioning drills.
“Until we put together a full 60 minutes with rigid adherence to our systems, we’re going to struggle against quality teams like that,” Gantt said.
BYU plays Utah State in its next home game on Thursday night at Seven Peaks Ice Arena. Tickets are $6 for general admission and $3 for students.