On Saturday, the Weber State University hockey team lost a game, and its leading scorer, in a game against in-state rival University of Utah, 4-1, at the Weber County Ice Sheet on Breast Cancer Awareness Night.
WSU Captain Braxton Green was coming across mid-ice with a little more than seven minutes left to play in the game when he was hit by U of U defenseman James Wilt. Green was sent sprawling to the ice and landed poorly, breaking his ankle. Referees did not stop the game as Green tried to crawl across the ice back to his bench, and no penalty was called on the play.
Curtis Snowball, a freshman forward, said the team fought hard in the game, but was frustrated by the referee’s lack of calls, especially on the hit to Green.
“The referees need to pull their heads out of their (expletive),” Snowball said.
The team was also hurt by a lack of discipline, and racked up multiple penalties during the second and third periods, which the Utes took advantage of. WSU Head Coach Steve Soto said the amount of penalties hurt the team.
“I did not like that there were so many penalties against us,” Soto said. “That was not very fair. We let the referees get the best of us.”
He said the team needs to learn discipline, because in the game there were too many fights and not enough playing.
Soto said losing Green will hurt the team, and also expressed his anger over the lack of a penalty on the hit.
“I am sad because this happened to us,” Soto said. “But what really pisses me off is that there was not any foul for that.”
He also said he hopes Green will be able to make a speedy return, because he is a crucial part of the team.
“Now all that we can do is to pray for him to get better soon,” Soto said. “We need our captain.”
Green might have to have surgery on his ankle, and will miss the rest of the season for WSU.
The Wildcats spent most of the game defending their own zone, and struggled to challenge the U of U goalie.
The Utes were able to capitalize on Wildcat penalties throughout the game, taking a 4-1 victory home to Salt Lake City on the back of two power-play goals by Mike Vrtis and Shaymus Bertagnolli.
Before he was injured, Green scored WSU’s lone goal in the second period with assists from Josh Guidice and Philip Jennrich. The Wildcats now drop to 4-7 on the season, and will embark on a challenging road trip.
The Wildcats will head south to face their toughest opponents of the year so far, the Division I University of Arizona, on Friday and Saturday in Tucson, Ariz., without their leading scorer, Green, who has 16 goals and 12 more assists in WSU’s 11 games this year.
WSU will then continue its road trip on Nov. 12 against the top-ranked team in the West and its in-state rival, Utah State University. That game starts at 7:15 p.m. at the Aggies’ home ice, the George S. Eccles Ice Center in Logan. The Wildcats will be looking to redeem themselves after a 13-1 loss against USU earlier this year.