After a grueling start to the season against Utah’s top teams, the BYU hockey team is forgetting the past and setting its sights on a future victory in its rematch against Utah.
“We know what their line combinations are. We know their power plays. We know their pressure on the penalty kill, and we are going to adjust our game plan,” said head coach Josh Burkart. “The key is … to play consistent for the full 60 minutes and compete every single shift.”
In the Cougars’ first game against Utah the Utes led 2-1 at the end of the first period. Both of Utah’s scores came as a result of power plays and breakdowns in the Cougars’ penalty coverage. The Utes added another four goals in the second, but the third period was a completely different story. The Cougars shut down the Ute offensive attack and struck back with a goal of their own.
The Cougars’ remarkable third period play was due to an adept goaltender and the Cougars’ fresh-start perspective.
“We are approaching each period as a new beginning,” said Chris Tuttle, a captain of the team. “We needed to forget about the past and treat the third period like a new game. Take it one shift and one period at a time.”
This perspective is going to be a key component in round two against Utah. Utah is a team that has been going to the nationals every year for the past few seasons. The Cougars believe, as a result, the Utes will be overconfident come Friday.
“They underestimate us as a team because they come out overconfident because of our past. We are going to come out and hit the ice hard,” said Tuttle.
Burkart said the early season has caused some mistakes in the team, but with repetition, the Cougars can improve.
“We are going to take our mistakes and correct them, and we are going to work on them in practice. It’s still early in the season, and guys are still getting used to the system,” Burkart said.
Throughout the season, the Cougars will play teams in their region multiple times. In particular they will play the closest regional teams the most. This means, even after the rematch against Utah, they will have to face off a few more times before the season is through.
David Gebert, one of BYU’s top scorers from last year, will be playing for the first time this season after having problems with appendicitis. Unfortunately Tuttle and many other players are dealing with injuries that will limit their abilities to play on Friday. Despite this, Tuttle and the other Cougars look forward with faith.
“This is the best I’ve felt with the team in a few years. Everyone has a great attitude even after losingm and they want to work hard in practice and to play their best the next game,” said Tuttle.