Coming into the BYU vs. Utah State hockey game, each team was desperate for its first win of the season. Each team entered the game with an 0-2 record.
Utah State scored two quick goals in the first period as a result of some quick passing around BYU’s net. Unlike BYU’s two previous games, the team didn’t concede any more first-period goals and even brought the score to 2-1, with a goal by Ryan Hoeke.
This improvement on conceding first-period goals was something the team has particularly been focusing on.
“Coach had given us exercises to improve our mental preparation to be working on through the week, the day before the game and during the game,” forward Tate Cowley said. “I think we still have room to improve, but we at least held them to two (goals) and got right back in right away.”
Both teams came out of the first intermission more physical and more determined. BYU tied the game back up to 2-2 as Nick Bartholomew, assisted by Blake Holmes, threw in a goal.
Utah State fought back with another goal, but BYU tied it up again as Axel Boyer put in a breakaway goal, tying the score up at 3-3 at the end of the second period.
The excitement of the game brought the crowd to its feet as the third period began, but it quickly died down. The Aggies scored early, putting them ahead 4-3. The remainder of the period was a struggle between the two teams, both enduring powerplays, but with no change on the scoreboard.
With just two minutes left in the game, BYU substituted out its goal tender, putting an extra forward on the ice in hopes of a comeback. Unfortunately, Utah State maximized on the opportunity and snuck one more goal in.
BYU continued to fight back, and with 43 seconds left, Tate Cowley brought the crowd back to its feet with a clench goal, setting the score to 5-4. BYU had just enough time to take a couple more shots on Utah State’s goal; however, the remainder of the clock ran out, and the Aggies grabbed the win.
When asked about the performance of his team, BYU coach Ed Gantt was pleased with its progress.
“I’m really proud of the guys tonight,” Gantt said. “We’ve got things to work on; we’re still a young team, but on the whole, we played a heck of a game against a very good club.”
As for the players, the loss was hard, but they’re feeling optimistic about the rest of the season.
“Little by little, we’re going to get that winning mentality … it’ll come,” Cowley said. “We’re doing the right things, we’re on the right track, and we’re coming out stronger every game.”
The Cougars will head on the road for away games against Utah State, Boise State and Utah over the next two weeks. Find a full schedule on byuhockey.org.