BYU Hockey won their second Cougar Classic tournament game 5-4 on Friday against Montana State after a heavy hitting and fast paced thriller.
The BYU Cougars started out flat but then took control in the second period, even against a very physical Montana team. BYU dominated on defense and quickly transitioned to and kept the puck on offense, frustrating Montana to the point that they became more concerned with hitting BYU players rather than putting points on the board.
Brendan Hubbard, BYU’s Captain who had the game winning goal, helped inspire his team to victory at the beginning of play.
“I told the team to live up to their potential, take the game shift by shift, and don’t take this team for granite,” Hubbard said.
The game started an hour later than scheduled because Montana got their late, but they apparently carried their momentum from the bus straight to the ice rink, scoring against the Cougar’s their first shot in the first minute of the game and again with three minutes in the period. But this didn’t phase the Cougars; they slowly warmed up and answered back with a goal from Josh Patrick, ending the first period 1 to 1.
“The guys came out flat, but we made some adjustments in the middle of the game,” said Josh Burkart, BYU’s head coach, “The guys pulled through, they won the individual puck battles and did the little things right.”
This was evident in the second period where BYU began gaining momentum. It wasn’t easy. Montana more than any team BYU has played had a very aggressive style of play: they weren’t afraid to hit the Cougars or run right through them. But the Cougars fought back hard, and kept their composure which was key to their win, especially after failing to get back on defense which led to a third Montana goal.
“When teams are physical like that, we tell the guys to stay the course, to stick to the game plan,” Burkart said, “If there’s a trip and a no call, so what, keep going, don’t let it affect your attitude.”
And that’s what BYU did.
At 9:07 in the second Nick Bartholomew scored after a teammate’s shot ricocheted off the Montana goalie. A few minutes later Patrick would score again in similar fashion, with a shot between the goalie’s legs. This was a turning point in the game as Montana began to let their frustrations get the better of them. BYU would go on to capitalize on that frustration in the third period but not before Montana scored again on a power play after a controversial penalty against BYU. The second period ended 3 to 4.
In the third period it was all about BYU. Montana focused on hitting hard while BYU focused on playing better. They shutdown Montana’s offense, rolled with the punches, and answered back with another goal from Bartholomew and the game winning goal from Hubbard.
The Cougar’s are clearly showing that they have what it takes to win, showing not only a strong will to win every game, but also improvement every game. The Cougar’s now look forward to Saturday’s rematch against Denver.
“I’m more excited than anything to play against Denver tomorrow,” Patrick said, “We have to come out against them flying.”
The Cougars say their key to winning tomorrow is to stay consistent the whole game. If they do, they are confident they will win.