After some time to reflect on their loss to Weber State, the BYU Cougars look to bounce back and perform to their full potential in front of a home crowd against Utah and Utah State.
“We are going to have a couple of our better players back this weekend and have a bigger bench,” said Chris Tuttle, one of the team captains. “We are excited to play at home against Utah and having the support of our fans.”
The Cougars, short of players and a little rusty, lost their first game of the season on the road. A few players were sick, injured or out of town. Still, BYU gave Weber State a good match before the Wildcats turned the game into a blowout in the third period.
“I was actually really impressed with the enthusiasm and effort the team put forth,” said Tanner Bilingsley, another team captain for the Cougars. “We played one of the best teams in the nation, and the second period bounced back with a goal from Nate Bartholomew before the fatigue started in the third.”
Despite their loss, the captains are positive and excited to play in front of their fans, practicing and doing extra conditioning this week in preparation to battle against their rivals. They are confident that with work ethic and enthusiasm they can hang with these higher-caliber teams.
“For us, it was the first game of the season; we made a few mistakes. But I’m really happy how we played for the first two periods,” said Bilingsley. “I expect we are going to learn from our mistakes, what we can improve on, and it’s going to show on the scoreboard against Utah.”
The Cougars are expecting a tough two games ahead of them at home. Utah’s hockey program has improved dramatically in recent years, and Utah State has been one of the perennial power houses in hockey for quite some time in the state.
The Cougars’ plan this weekend is to win every situation, every stray puck and every possession in order to stay competitive.
“There are a lot of things we learned from the first game. We have to work hard, not just the first two periods, but do it for the whole game, and if we do that we will pull off a win,” Tuttle said.
The Cougars will play Utah on Friday at 7 p.m. and Utah State on Saturday at 7 p.m.