As the BYU hockey season comes to a close, it’s clear how much the No. 18 team has improved since last season.
Head coach Ed Gantt said the players’ support of each other and their willingness to do what was asked was the main cause of the improvement.
“I think this level of individual commitment, as well as trust in the coaching staff and teammates, played a large role in doubling our wins this season over last season and in increasing our overall competitiveness,” Gantt said.
Throughout the season, the Cougars have made dramatic improvements in their stats alone. They cut down their goals allowed and doubled their wins from the previous season. Ben Gantt said the game versus No. 2 University of Utah in the Wasatch Cup proved the Cougars to be true competitors. Though BYU lost, they took the Utes into triple overtime.
“When you play arguably the best team in the state that close, then it does wonders for confidence,” Ben said. “Now we have the mentality that we belong here.”
Ed said it wasn’t a lack of talent that tormented the Cougars; rather, it was a lack of confidence. He said the hope is for the team to take the strong season they had this year and build on it in 2016–17.
Forward Tate Cowley added their energy on the ice helped them mentally.
“I think we play better when we play more physical and we have a lot more confidence with the puck,” Cowley said. “I think we know better what to do with the puck in different situations.”
Cowley said the new freshmen have been great additions to the energy and talent of the team. Next season, the Cougars will lose seniors Aaron Cox, Scott Mehr, Chris Tuttle and Ryan Newton to their lineup. But the team is hoping to receive more contributions in terms of returning players.
Ed was clear that his focus has always been toward becoming a Christ-centered team. He said rather than worry about stats and win/loss records, he decided to focus on gratitude to the Lord and let the rest fall into place.
“We take the mission of this university and the Church very seriously,” Gantt said. “We decided that we were going to rely on the Lord to bring us all together, help us achieve our maximum potential and strengthen us through the tough times. In the end, we achieved far more once we moved our focus in this direction than we ever would have otherwise with any other focus or purpose.”
BYU will conclude this season on Feb. 20 at Utah State. For updates on Cougar hockey, visit their Facebook page.