BYU Hockey loses white-knuckle game against agile Montana Tech

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A BYU player brings the puck down into opposing territory during a power play in a recent game at Peaks Arena. (Photo by The Universe)
A BYU player brings the puck down into opposing territory during a power play in a recent game at Peaks Arena. (Photo by The Universe)

The BYU Hockey team suffered a tough defeat in the final minutes of the game Friday night against Montana Tech after competing stride for stride the whole game.

“I think our guys played well through a whole 60 minutes,” head coach Josh Burkart said. “I think what it came down to was a few bad bounces.”

The Cougars came out of the gates scoring with two goals within the first four minutes of the game, to which the Orediggers responded with two of their own by the end of the first period. Without a hint of slowing down after a 3-3 score after two periods, Montana Tech was able to capitalize on a wild puck near the Cougar goal and put the Orediggers ahead 5-4 in the final minutes of the third period. BYU was unable to score in the final five minutes and fell to the Orediggers with a final score of 5-4.

Montana Tech, ranked 14th in West Regional rankings, used speed and agility on the ice to keep up with BYU’s precise shooting and passing. After Friday’s victory over the Cougars, the Orediggers improved to 13-5 on the season.

Axel Boyer, a recently returned missionary and left defenseman, has had a great season since joining the team in January, including two goals against Montana Tech and a hat trick in BYU’s 10-1 victory against Gonzaga.

“That was one of the best games we’ve played all season,” Boyer said. “We just need to build on the momentum we had out there tonight.”

Seeking to adjust from a bitter 13-0 loss to #5 Utah a couple weeks ago, the Cougars were able to maintain intensity and focus throughout the entire game. Head coach Josh Burkart attributed last weeks loss to the players running out of steam in the final period, which the Utes capitalized on.

“Tonight we really focused on the guys taking it one shift at a time and they really did that well,” Burkart said. “It was the most complete game I’ve seen the guys play all year.”

The Cougars get a second chance to beat Montana Tech Saturday 4 p.m. and Burkart believes the team had the right plan going into Friday’s game.

“We know who their top three scorers are and we’re going to work to shut them down,” Burkart said. “If the team can focus on winning one shift at a time, we’ll come out on top.”

BYU plays its last home hockey game at Peaks Ice Arena at 4 p.m. on Saturday before preparing to take the road to face Utah State University for their last game of the season.

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