Pucks, bodies, and fists were all flying on Saturday night, as the Weber State University Hockey Team won their home opener against Brigham Young University, 5-3.
The Ogden Ice Sheet was packed with fans as they watched the WSU Wildcats open their season against their in-state rival. BYU took the early lead five minutes into the first period, but WSU responded with a goal of their own just a few seconds later.
BYU spent most of the first period putting heavy pressure on the Wildcat’s goalie, but despite threatening multiple times, BYU only scored once in the first period. With just a little over four minutes remaining in the first period, WSU scored their second goal from a long shot to put them in the lead, 2-1.
For most of the second period, the Wildcats commanded play, three minutes into the second period, WSU scored again. With 11:25 left to go in the second period, the crowd erupted with a loud roar as Phil Jennrich, scored again to put them up, 4-1.
Prior to the game, WSU Head Coach Steve Soto expressed his excitement over having Jennrich on the team this year.
“As far as new guys,” Soto said, “Phil Jennrich on defense brings experience to the team. We are hoping that he will help improve this team enormously.”
BYU managed to score again with six minutes remaining in the second period, and after 40 minutes of game play, the score was 4-2.
The defense stepped up on both teams, as neither team scored during the first 15 minutes of the third period. BYU finally scored with a little over five minutes left in the third period to make the score 4-3. Less than a minute after the goal, a brawl broke out near the WSU goal involving six players. The crowd broke out in cheers over the fight, which saw three players get sent to the penalty box and one BYU player ejected.
Weber State sealed the victory by scoring with less than a minute and a half to go. This marked the second time Weber State has defeated BYU over their last six matches dating back to last season.
Before the game, Soto expressed confidence in his team on improving from their 5-23 record from last season. He stated that, although the team is ranked in the top ten for their conference, he still believes that there is still some work yet to be done. One aspect that Coach Soto believes will help the team is the addition of forward Janik Sundberg. Soto believes that Sundberg brings experience and physicality to the team.
“He (Sundberg) likes to hit as well,” says Coach Soto. “He’s more physical, and that’s something that we really haven’t had in the past.”
Jennrich felt that as a team there were a few small things to try and practice more on, but overall he said that he felt they performed great Saturday night. He said that for the rest of the season, the team is going to have to play hard every game.
“We just have to show up,” Jennrich said. “I mean, we just have to play good . . . we are just going to have to show up and play our best.”
WSU goalie, Craig Peterson, put on a great show, allowing only three goals all night despite constant pressure from the BYU offense. After the game, Peterson stated that he felt that the team came out and performed very well. Peterson also mentioned his confidence in the team improving from last season based on the schedule and matchups for the rest of the season.
Freshman forward Curtis Snowball also performed well, scoring Weber State’s third goal of the game. Snowball felt that the team performed well and the crowd’s enthusiasm benefited the team.
“I thought we did pretty good,” Snowball said. “We need to work on a couple things but the crowd definitely helped us.”
He also said that despite the win on Saturday, the team is going to need to work hard in preparation for their upcoming game against Utah State University.
Weber State will be looking for redemption against USU at home on Friday at 7:30 p.m. Weber State lost all four matches against USU last season, the last one ending in a 16-2 blowout.