BYU hockey back in the creases

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Pads? Check. Helmet? Check. Gloves? Check. Uniform? Check. Skates, stick? Check, check. Zamboni? Check.

It’s that time of the year again where students lace up their skates and get ready to hit the ice and represent BYU hockey for another season.

With tryouts finishing up over Labor Day weekend, the roster is set and the team is looking to improve on last year’s 9-18 season, which had the Cougars finish in the middle of the west division of the American Collegiate Hockey Association.

“We have a real solid team this year,” said Scott Johnson, a 22-year-old defender from Dallas. “I think we are going to be a lot more improved than last year.”

The home opener is Friday against the Utah State Aggies. The Aggies fielded the top team in the west last year.

BYU’s season has 30 games, with 29 of them against division opponents, and one game against alumni. The Cougars will play Boise State, University of Colorado, Northern Arizona, University of Utah, Weber State, Montana Tech and UNLV. The team plays a home-and-home format for in-state teams, where each team will host the other on the different nights. For teams farther away, they will play two games per weekend.

“Nobody likes us,” said Mitch Facer, a 20-year-old from Scotch Plains, N.J. “But we like us, so it doesn’t matter.”

The Cougars start the season unranked in their division, while Utah State (No. 2) and the University of Colorado (No. 4) start in the top five again.

BYU has a tough schedule this year, with games on the road against UNLV in December, and the University of Colorado coming to Provo twice this season. The Cougars also play Utah State five times, a team that has given BYU fits in the past. The Cougars finished 0-5 against the Aggies last season.

BYU hosts the Weber State Wildcats during Homecoming weekend in October.

“If we can stick in the top 10 until winter,” Facer said, “then we will get a real boost with some players coming back from missions who will really help the team out.”

After taking a break during finals and the Christmas holiday, the Cougars will roar back into competition by playing two home games against the University of Utah in the beginning of January.

Another notable game is the annual Alumni game, which is scheduled for Feb. 4. The game features players who have graduated and moved on to come back and celebrate the tradition and history of the program.

The hockey season is about five months long, with the last game scheduled for Feb. 10. The Cougars have a chance to make it into the American Collegiate Hockey Association tournament at the end of the year but will have to claim the top seed in their division.

The team tries to incorporate the fans into the game as much as it can and are grateful for the loyal fan base that has grown over the years.

“You don’t have to know a lot about hockey to have fun,” Facer said. “If the puck goes in, for us, that’s a good thing. Everybody loves the big hits, and there will always be big hits.”

The team is also reaching out to new fans by holding a meet-and-greet session after home games, followed by a team dinner that fans are welcome to attend.

“In between periods we have fan games, like chuck a puck, see if you can score a goal, just fun stuff,” said Ashton Ripley, 23, from Birmingham, Ala. “We want to try to get to know our fans and show our appreciation for them.”

Fans can see upcoming events on the BYU Hockey Facebook page. By liking them on Facebook, fans can also receive promotional items and coupons, as well as see photos of the team.

Games are played at Seven Peaks Ice Arena. Students will receive a discount on their ticket by showing their BYU ID. The schedule is available online, at byuhockey.org/schedule2009.

 

 

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