The BYU hockey team played three teams in three days in Colorado and came home empty handed, losing 5-0 against Denver, 7-3 against Metro State, and 5-1 against Northern Colorado. Yet despite having only one win this season, the Cougars say they are still positive about the future.
BYU head coach Josh Burkart said the Cougars started out badly because his team came out slow and shorthanded. The Cougars had many defensive turnovers in each of the three games that led to many of the opposing teams’ goals.
“A lot of their goals came off of turnovers,” Burkart said. “We turned the puck over, and they transitioned over and scored goals.”
Against Denver on Thursday, the Cougars were unable to generate any sort of offense, only getting 18 shots on goal the entire game. Chris Tuttle, one of the BYU assistant captains, said it was one of BYU’s worst performances, with no motivation or momentum.
“After the first game we had a lot of guys that were frustrated, sacrificing time and effort to be out here in Colorado playing,” Tuttle said.
BYU’s hockey team is a club team so it is not sponsored by the school, which increases costs for players. And since they are college students, Tuttle said the sacrificial combination of time off from school and traveling costs can be a bit discouraging, but they bonded a little through the week.
“We were able to bond and motivate each other throughout the week,” Tuttle said. “We all stayed at one house, and we talked about what we wanted in the season and what we wanted to become.”
The bonding moments help the Cougars to renew their efforts. With each period of each game, the Cougar players said they gained momentum and confidence as they played better each night, even despite the exhaustion of having a short bench and playing three nights in a row. The Cougars’ game against Metro State was at least an improvement over the first.
Nick Bartholomew, Ryan Hoeke and Chris Tuttle were the starting offensive lineup for the Cougars that helped keep the game competitive against Metro State, each scoring a goal.
“They scored the first goal; we scored the second, they the third, and we scored the fourth,” Burkart said. “It was some really good back-and-forth hockey.”
Bartholomew and Hoeke are the two BYU players with the most goals this season, each averaging a point a game. Metro State was Tuttle’s first full game in several weeks because of a shoulder separation injury he suffered earlier in the season. Burkart hopes to look to these three to be a key combination in winning more games the rest of the season.
The final game of the Colorado road trip was against UNCO, and although the Cougars fought valiantly, they ended up losing 5-1.
“The third game I thought we played a great game, but we just didn’t get the bounces,” Burkart said. “The guys were playing physical, competitive and were creating turnovers. The problem is we still had turnovers too.”
Despite the long losing road trip, Burkart and the other coaches said they feel excited with the level of progression and intensity the Cougars are showing, and they look to make up the losses with three wins on home ice Oct. 17–19.