“The rivalry with us and Utah is nice, but their fans don’t seem to get into it as much,” BYU forward Ashton Ripley said.
This is the first time this season the two teams have met on the ice and has the promise of another intense in-state competition between two schools that have some history between them.
“Their team has gotten better the last few years,” Ripley said. “They’ve really stepped up their level of play.”
The Utes won the season series last season, taking four of six matches between the two teams. They will play six games this season as well, keeping the rivalry alive and well.
The game will be played at Western Park Ice Rink, meaning both teams, as well as their fans, will have to travel for the match. The Vernal game is a boost for the strong youth program there, although the fans wear a color that doesn’t fit the BYU team well.
“A lot of the fans that come in Vernal are Ute fans, so it’s almost like another home game for them,” BYU captain Adam Farero said.
The rink in Vernal is smaller than the home rink for BYU, which adds a new wrinkle to their game plan.
“We are going to have to keep our heads up because if you don’t, you’ll get creamed,” Ripley said.
The Cougars have had struggles dealing with the influx of new players this season, losing their first three games as they try to get the team chemistry up to the team’s talent level.
“Every game really helps,” BYU left wing Adam Hickman said. “Since we have such a young team, our offense is getting that much better.”
The Skatin’ Utes have started the season 1-1, splitting a weekend series against Boise State. The Cougars will have to keep forward Beau Bertagnolli, who led the Utes last season in points scored with 89 and has scored three goals this season, in check. Bertagnolli is joined on the team by his brother Shaymus, who has two assists on his first season with the team.
BYU plays one game this weekend, allowing them rest before a big home series Oct. 7 and 8 against Weber State.