Current and former BYU hockey players squared off at Peaks Ice Arena on Saturday as part of the annual alumni and fundraising event, with the current Cougars pulling out a 9-8 victory.
“We usually fly in for this every year,” Derek Battisti, BYU all-time leading scorer who played from 2001-2008, said. “We really look forward to it.”
Both the current Cougars squad and the alumni team delivered an energetic and fast-paced game with close competition. The alumni team was the first to score, showing that they weren’t going to take it easy and led 5-3 by the end of the first period.
“In the beginning, I think they take it light on us a little bit and then they realize that we’re not that bad,” Battisti said. “Then you can see in the end they start trying really hard.”
Battisti was right, as the current players outscored the alumni 6-3 the rest of the way. The Cougars scored the game-winning goal with less than 20 seconds remaining.
Freshman Kevin Andelin said they wanted to earn the alumni’s approval.
“We wanted to win because we wanted to earn their respect and give them a good game,” Andelin said. “It was fun playing with some really talented players.”
Though the game was competitive and full of contact, ultimately it wasn’t about winning or losing.
“It’s a lot of fun. It’s not really the game that we come back for,” Battisti said. “We come back to see everybody and to see the growth and what the team is like.”
Many of the returning players were a part of the Provo Ice Cats program – the team’s name until they were able to use the “Y” logo in 2004. Since then the BYU hockey program has continued to evolve and many of the alumni noted the growth in the organization. But even more than growth, BYU head coach Ed Gantt said it’s about celebrating a legacy of Cougar hockey on and off the ice.
“Every one of those guys could give you a story of how this team changed their lives in some way,” Gantt said. “Whether it got them on a mission, or strengthened their testimony, or some of them even met their wives – it made a difference. For these young guys who are playing now, they can look and see that we have a tradition. There’s a legacy here.”
The BYU hockey team will conclude their season next week with their last two home games against Montana Tech on Jan. 22 and 23.