BYU hockey looks to start the season off by gigging the Aggies tonight for their home opener.
Utah State considers BYU to be their biggest in-state rival, so this game promises to be an exciting way to start off the season.
“They are my favorite team to play,” said Mitch Facer, a 22-year-old from Scotch Plains, N.J., “The games are always full of big hits, and their fans really don’t like us, so it makes for a great game.”
The team has only had two weeks to prepare for the upcoming season, and the roster has many new players who have returned from missions.
“With so many new players, we are bringing in a lot of new individual talent,” said Scott Johnson, a 22-year-old defender from Dallas, Texas. “We are having to work out the lines during practice and get all of us on the same page so that we can improve off of last season.”
The Cougars finished with a 9-18 record that was good for 18 points last season, but the team feels this year could be better.
The team will look to some of their key players to keep them competitive in the game tonight.
“Tanner Billingsley will probably have a real good game with a couple big hits,” said Ashton Ripley, a 23-year-old forward from Birmingham, Ala.
Utah State is coming to Provo without their best player from last season, who they lost to graduation. The Aggies have fielded a very competitive team in the past, however, and this season the Aggies will still present a challenge to the Cougars.
“Unless they get a transfer player from the Canadian Youth leagues, they don’t have anybody much better than what we’ve seen in previous years,” Facer said.
The rivalry game brings out the best of both teams, as well as their fans. Aggie fans get very passionate when the Cougars come to Logan, according to Ripley, and “they can be a bit offensive at times.”
Hockey is a sport that has a niche in the lives of their fans, but the game can be enjoyed by those who haven’t had exposure to the game in the past.
“I can guarantee that it will be fast paced, easy to get into, and you will love the big hits,” said Brandon Hubbard, a 22-year-old from Alberta, Canada, and a first year player on the team.
Players describe the game as a combination of basketball, soccer, football and rugby. The one thing they have in common is how enjoyable they are to cheer for and watch.
“The games are an inexpensive date idea, and that’s coming from the married guy,” Ripley said.
Tickets are being offered at a 60 percent discount for the home opener. The games are at Peaks Ice Arena, which is located at 100 N. Seven Peaks Blvd. in Provo.
Utah State will host BYU in the second game of the home-and-home series Saturday at 7:00 p.m. The two teams have three more games scheduled for this season.
More information is available at byuhockey.org.