By Jeremy Twitchell
BYU students looking for another way to express their anti-Ute sentiments this rivalry weekend have it tonight when the Provo IceCats host the University of Utah Skatin” Utes.
Recently released rankings by the American Collegiate Hockey Association place the IceCats at No. 12 in the Western Region, while the Utes are ranked No. 3.
The IceCats come into the game with their best start in years, at 6-1, and aim to defend their unbeaten home record.
The Utes are 10-6-3 overall and are currently on a five-game unbeaten streak.
A potential problem for Provo is that the team has not played a serious game in four weeks now. However, coach Ray Bernier said he is not too worried about his team.
“We”ve seen Utah a couple of times, and we”re not going to go into the game overconfident,” he said. “It”s nice we”re playing them here, and it”s also nice that we”ve seen them play and we somewhat know what to expect.”
The game marks only the second time this season the IceCats play a team they are familiar with and have been able to scout.
Although the team has a good idea what to expect from the Utes, Bernier said his focus has been on preparing his team to control the game rather than react to the other team.
“We”re going to try to play our game,” he said. “We play a quick game and we can move the puck well.”
Players began seriously preparing for the Utes during the alumni game last Friday.
After two slow periods against the alumni, in which the IceCats scored just six goals, coaches reminded the players that they would face Utah the next week, and they had to be ready for that.
“We talked a lot about that between the second and third periods, Bernier said. “We told them that if they were going to play that way against Utah, it would be 6-0 for Utah after the first period.”
The team responded by scoring seven goals in the third period.
Players say they are aware of the importance of this game, and desperately want the victory against their rivals.
“I hate Utah,” sophomore defenseman Mark Ostebo said. “My first year when we played them, they swore at us and insulted us. They just have no class.”
“I don”t think we”re nervous as much as we are pumped up,” freshman wing Jason Griffiths said. “We haven”t played in a while, and we”re a little worried about that, but not nervous.”
The rivalry continues when the puck hits the ice at 7:30 p.m. in the Peaks Ice Arena.