LAS VEGAS — BYU hockey battled the UNLV Rebels over the weekend, losing Friday night 6-5 and recording a draw Saturday night 5-5.
The game Friday began in front of a small home crowd for UNLV, and the Cougars scored twice during a sloppy first period for both teams.
The period was rife with turnovers, mistakes and few shots on goal for both teams. UNLV made the first play of the game, taking advantage of BYU failing to clear the puck to have a man advantage which produced an easy shot on goal.
The Cougars answered at the end of the half, scoring off a defensive play in their own zone. Forward Tanner Grey intercepted a pass in front of goal, drew the goaltenders eyes with a fake, then beat him stick high for his first goal of the weekend.
BYU scored right before the end of the half while on the power play. Captain Adam Farero got an early Christmas present when the UNLV goalie didn’t make a play on a shot because of traffic on net by the offense.
The middle period was full of back and forth scoring, with UNLV equalizing the game with a score three minutes into the period.
The Cougars came out of the period with the lead in large part to strong goaltending by Taylor Barr. Despite two positioning errors that led to goals, Barr stopped shot after shot as UNLV turned up the pressure during the period.
The third period was similar to the first two, with UNLV starting the scoring. This time, however, BYU wasn’t able to answer, and UNLV scored one more unanswered goal that would prove to be the difference in the final scorecard. Mitch Facer would score with two minutes left, but time ran out before the rally could be finished.
“The players are really starting to come together and do well,” said general manager Stan Weiss after the game. “We just played a top 10 team to a 6-5 loss in a close game.”
The score would prove to be prophetic Saturday night as well, although the Cougars made much more drama out of it.
UNLV came out with much more intensity than they showed Friday night, and BYU struggled to keep the puck out of their zone at the beginning of the night. They took advantage of trips into the opponent’s zone however, with goals from forwards Mitch Facer and Tanner Grey in the first two periods.
UNLV went into the third period up 4-2, but the Cougars battled back to draw even at the end of regulation. The two teams combined for three goals in the final three minutes, leaving the scoreboard at 5-5.
The final result was a draw for the game, the Cougars second on the season.
“We were hoping to come out of here with a W, but this was a real character win for us,” said Stan Weiss. “Coming back, on the road, it showed how tough we are as a team.”
The series marked the final games for seniors Eric Peterson, Travis Kotter and Adam Hickman. The team will bring in four top prospects to fill the empty spots.
“Those four guys got accepted to school during fall, and they’ve been practicing with the team while they wait to play,” said Coach Jeremy Weiss.
BYU has a 2-11-2 record on the season after this weekend, while UNLV improves to 7-7-1.