After playing the best teams in its region, BYU hockey passed through the fiery furnace and came out refined and ready to take down California Berkley 5–3 in its first win of the season.
“Before the game it felt a little intimidating because of a rough start of the season,” said Nick Bartholomew, who scored three goals for the Cougars during the game. “We all worked together to pull the win as a team; we wanted it more. It felt good to get the first win of the season out of the way.”
Batholomew pulled off the first hat trick of the season and leads all Cougars in scoring. Bartholomew was the first Cougar to score during the game, and thanks to some impressive stick skills and dodging defenders, he added two more goals to firmly defeat California.
“It feels good. I feel glad for the guys. I knew it was going to be a competitive game,” said head coach Josh Burkart. “Our team came out flat, but I’m proud of the way the guys fought. They didn’t let the first 10 minutes of the game affect the rest of their play.”
The game was the first of the season for California. The Cougars expected the Golden Bears to be rusty and have bus legs from all the traveling. However, they came out strong, looking to win their first game while the Cougars looked slow. The period ended with a 2–1 California lead.
But the Cougars stayed true to their fresh start mentality; they forgot the past and started the second period with renewed vigor. They repeatedly shut down California’s offense and were able to tie the game at 2. A constant barrage of pucks flying at both goalies could be seen throughout the entire game. Each team had more than 40 shots on goal by the end.
Although BYU defended well, Berkley was able to take advantage of a missed pass and go one-on-one against BYU’s goalie and score to take a 3–2 lead.
The Cougar defense shut down California completely while the offensive game continually attacked the California net. Bartholomew, a veteran on the Cougar team, was the first to score in the third period, tying the game at 3 at 10:30 in the third. After some stellar play from the Cougars around the back of the net, the goal that sealed BYU’s first victory was launched from 30 feet out by David Gebert.
“I saw it coming. I didn’t even look at the net; I felt where it was, and I felt that it’d be a good shot,” Gebert said. “It felt good; it sealed the deal; it put them on their heels. The other team threw their sticks on the bench.”
Sophomore Ryan Hoeke, who first tied the game up with a goal, said the Cougars were able to cope this game with the short bench that has been an issue for them this season.
“It was really tough at the beginning of the year. We weren’t used to it, but after playing a bunch of games we are starting to get used to it,” Hoeke said.
The Cougars are now 1–4 on the season. Although they have only won once so far, they have a series of teams to focus on.
The Cougars’ next three games will be Oct. 10–12 in Denver, Colo. The Cougars will then host the first Cougar Classic, a three-day tournament on their home ice Oct. 17–19.
Despite the great win, Burkart said the Cougars’ refinement is far from over.
“The rest of the season will still have its ups and downs; the goal is consistency,” Burkart said. “The next game we have to play better than the night before, and then play better the next game and continually be progressing.”