University of Utah’s Skating Utes come to Provo Friday for a big rivalry game against the BYU hockey team.
The Cougars are desperate for their first win of the season and are looking for revenge after a 5-4 loss to Utah in a game played earlier this season in Vernal.
“The game this weekend is everything. This rivalry means everything to me, it’s one of the reasons I play hockey,” defender Tanner Billingsley said.
The Cougar defense has improved in recent games, giving up an average of four goals a game with freshman goaltender Taylor Barr manning the net. But the team has to find a way to turn its offense up a level and give the defense some breathing room to operate.
“We’ve done some timing drills to make our offense more reacting instead of thinking, and some scrimmaging to help us realize where we are going to progress to,” forward Ashton Ripley said. “It feels like we’re running without the ball sometimes. These practices should help.”
BYU also has to look out for the Utes’ top line, especially forward Beau Bertagnolli. Bertagnolli has 12 goals this season, as well as nine assists. His 21 points on the season is three less than the top four scorers for the Cougars combined. The Utes have six players with 10 points or more on the season.
“We’re going to pay extra attention to their top line, not being too defensive, but making sure not to make mental mistakes,” Ripley said.
The Utes also look to rebound from a loss, having fallen on the road to the University of Washington.
The Cougars’ young team has lost every game, but the coaching staff and players are trying to stay positive.
“I feel like we’re starting to outplay the other team, we just need to find some breaks,” forward Mitch Facer said.
The players also hope the fans make it out to the game tonight.
“The fan support is so much to us,” Billingsley said. “The crowd gives us a lot of energy to have that extra step and be ahead of the other guys.”
Fans can save $2 by texting byuhockey to 77948 and showing the text when purchasing the ticket.
The University of Utah won four games against BYU last season, with BYU winning two games at home against their in-state foe. The Utes bring a 7-3 record into Provo, while BYU holds an 0-9 record this year.