By Mitch Olsen
The Utes are winless on the road this year and the Cougars are undefeated at Seven Peaks, but this Friday Utah will try to break both streaks when it takes on BYU for the third time this season in Provo.
BYU has already beaten Utah twice this year. In their first win, the Cougars had a dominating offensive performance and beat the Utes 11-4. In a Thanksgiving weekend game, BYU scored three goals in the last five minutes to make the score much more lopsided than the game played. Utah will look for any small advantage to stay with the Cougars this weekend.
“They”ll be focused on playing much stronger defensively and looking for a simple pick or odd-man rush to increase their scoring chances,” said assistant coach Doug Kimball. “I am sure they know they can”t let the game get away from them early on.”
BYU (8-2-1-1) dropped to No. 11 in the Western Division standings after splitting a weekend series with Utah State. The Cougars played stellar hockey on Friday against the Aggies, but did not play up to par Saturday and lost 6-2. The trend of playing great one night and struggling the next is a common concern for the team.
“Our let down in the second game can be attributed to not playing all sixty minutes and thinking that we have already proved something,” Kimball said. “We need to ensure ourselves for regional and national contention. We cannot afford to give up one game to Utah, nor to have even a close game.”
Utah (4-14-1) is currently ranked No. 24 in the Western Division. And although their record may not be impressive, the Utes do have the potential to play with BYU or any other team in the division. They recently beat Walla Walla University, ranked No. six in the division, and well as Utah State 2-1 in the beginning of the year.
BYU will be excited to have Derek Battisti, Beau Adams and Ben Shugart back for this weekends” games. All three were absent for the Thanksgiving weekend game against the Utes and the coaches will look to them for offensive power and team leadership.
Tonight the Cougars will play at 9 p.m. at Seven Peaks and will then travel to Salt Lake to take on the Utes Saturday at 8:30 p.m.