The BYU Cougar’s started the first ever Cougar Classic tournament with a tough 5-3 loss in a rematch against Weber State Thursday.
Despite the loss, the real story showed how the Cougars have improved dramatically since their first game of the season, which was an 11-1 loss in the first game agains the Wildcats.
“Our first match against them we had a very short bench,” said Ryan Hoeke, who is one of the leading scorers for BYU, “We’ve definitely improved a lot since then too.”
This game was much different from the first match of the season. The Cougars say both the coaching staff and the players have been working extra hard in practice, and they haven’t let losses dampen their competitive spirit.
“We’ve got a lot of heart,” BYU assistant captain Chris Tuttle said
The first 12 minutes in the first period looked like both teams were slowly warming up and passed rather uneventfully. At 6:50 in the first period BYU worked it around on offense and passed it to Cam Lyman, who suddenly let off a hard slap shot from 30 feet out and scored. Unfortunately for BYU, this goal seemed to wake up Weber, and in just over 30 seconds the Wildcats answered back with a goal of their own. The period ended 1-1.
“We just had a break down in the defense,” said Scott Mehr, BYU’s goalie who blocked over half of the 48 plus shots Weber had in the game, “We were excited about the goal and Weber turned on and countered hard while we were unfocused.”
The Cougars played excellent defense in the second period against a very aggressive Weber offense. BYU showed significantly better defensive positioning and passing skills then they did at the first of the season. However, the Cougars were unable to get many shots off, while the aggressive shooting of the Wildcats paid off with two more goals.
In the third period, BYU came out much more aggressively; the Cougars were often falling to the ice or knocking into the opponent’s goal scrambling after the puck. After the first couple of minutes and some nice passing, Hoeke skated in close and put the puck in the net for BYU. Tanner Billingsley also made a nice shot right between the Weber goalie’s legs and score.
However, despite the superb playing, BYU had a couple more breakdowns on defense that led to two more Wildcat scores, the game ending 5-3. The Cougars will play their next game of the tournament Friday at 5 p.m. against Montana State. Several other teams are playing in the three day tournament including Utah State and Denver university.