By Jeffrey Blackmun
When the Provo IceCats take the ice Friday, Dec. 7, against Utah, there will be no questions about which team is better.
Utah is ranked No. 1 in the Western region of the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA). The Utes have already pounded the ‘Cats twice this season. The last time the two teams met, Utah clobbered Provo 16-3.
Depth will be the IceCats’ biggest problem against Utah. The Utes have three good lines that are complimented by outstanding speed and size, said senior center Mark Martinez.
“This will be the first time we’ve played them at home, so we don’t want to be humiliated in front of our home crowd,” said senior goalie Matt Denning.
The IceCats’ poor performances against the Utes this season are a change from years past.
“We used to dominate and beat them all the time,” Denning said. “Utah has really given us a wake-up call.”
Despite the odds that are against the IceCats, the team feels it has a chance to post a victory over the Utes.
In preparation for this game, the ‘Cats have stepped up their practice intensity and off-ice training to be better equipped to compete with Utah.
“I think we’ll be ready for them,” said sophomore center Greg Ingram. “If we come out and play three strong periods of hockey, with no mental breakdowns, we will be right in the game and hopefully we’ll pull out a win.”
Because this will be the last game of Martinez’ career, this game has extra meaning for him.
“This is my last game, so I’d like to have a good game,” Martinez said. “I’ve played hockey my whole life, so it will be different not to play.”
The IceCats are healthy and hope to be able to improve on their dismal 1-7-0 record.
“As far as hockey is concerned, it doesn’t get any better than this for us,” Denning said.
“We’re optimistic, but when you have a record like we do, you never can be too confident,” Denning said. “But I think we’ll win. I think we’ll surprise them.”
The two teams face off tonight at 9:15 p.m. at The Peaks Ice Arena.