Utah State beat BYU by a score of 9-3, in a game that was decided by a matter of inches in spite of the final score.
“Momentum plays a huge part in hockey, and they just managed to get it back and keep their foot on the gas,” BYU captain Adam Farero said.
BYU played an exciting game for their fans against a team who has had the advantage against them all season. The Aggies scored four goals in the first, and the game was heading toward another Utah State blowout win.
However, the momentum shifted with a goal from BYU team leader Tanner Billingsley.
“That goal really gave us some confidence, and we fed off the fans and just were so energized afterward,” Billingsley said. “That goal made us realize that we could make a game out of it.”
The team responded with two more goals in the period. The second, scored by forward Mitch Facer, came right at the end of a power play kill by the defense. Grey managed to get another goal, his sixth in three games. He is now the team leader in goals scored.
With the crowd cheering, the team took the ice in the third period looking to capitalize on its strong second period. The offense got a shot on goal, the puck landed right on the line, and the players threw their hands in the air to celebrate only to have the ref call it off. Utah State cleared the puck, started a breakaway and maneuvered their way into the back of the BYU net.
“That was really hard on us,” forward Brendan Hubbard said. “We went from us scoring, and having a tie game (4-4) to having them score and now us being down by two goals. It definitely changed the rest of the game.”
Utah State took control of the game after that point, demonstrating the teamwork and talent that has taken them to the top spot in the standings of the West Division.
“I have tremendous respect for Utah State,” Billingsley said. “They are very talented, and they showed us how well we are going to have to play to beat them.”
But the team feels like they can learn a valuable lesson for the rest of the season from the loss.
“We can definitely have confidence going into our next games against Boise State,” Hubbard said. “When we played our best, we could skate with the Aggies. We just need to have a 60 minute performance and play the way we did during the second period the entire game.”
The team also saw strong defense from goaltender Neil Squire, who started for the team and earned player of the game.
“Neil played amazing. We played our best when he was standing up down there in net and stopping everything that came at him,” Billingsley said. “He really stood up and helped us out.”
The team will decide who to start in the goal based off of performance in practice, as well as which goalie has the hot hand.
BYU looks to rebound off their exciting game for their final home series of 2011 next week against Boise State. They will play Friday and Saturday night against their West Division opponent.