The Weber State University hockey team’s season ended over the weekend with a 1-1-1 record at the American Collegiate Hockey Association’s national tournament.
After a tough season the previous year, the Wildcats ended in the top 10 teams out of 260 in the nation.
“It felt like any other game to me,” said team captain Braxton Green. “The level of play was a lot higher than what we were used to, but I thought our team competed well.”
On Friday, the Wildcats took on the No. 1 seat in their pool, Marist College. WSU led the entire match with a score of 3-1 at the end of the first period. At the end of the second period, WSU was still up by two points, 5-3. MC came back and tied the game, sending it into overtime. Reid Mayer scored in overtime for the Wildcats, giving WSU the 7-6 victory.
“I read the play right, stole the puck on the blue line, went down on a 2-on-1 and saw a little corner, and closed my eyes and shot the puck and it went in,” Mayer said.
On Saturday, WSU played Pennsylvania State University. The Wildcats started the game out hot, with a goal in the first five minutes on a breakaway play by Green. At the end of the first half, the game was tied 1-1. The momentum was with the Wildcats in the second period, with a pair of goals from Mayer and Coleman Ashworth taking the score to 3-1. PSU retaliated with three goals to end the second period 4-3 for PSU.
WSU had a hard time staying out of the penalty box in the third period. PSU took advantage of those power plays, scoring three more goals to end the game with a final score of 7-3.
The Wildcats played Illinois State University on Sunday. WSU started out strong again with a 2-1 lead at the end of the first period. At the end of the second period, ISU tied the game at 2-2.
The third quarter stayed evenly matched. WSU’s Curtis Snowball scored a goal that ISU quickly matched, which sent the game into overtime. Overtime went scoreless. In the national tournament, play only goes into a overtime with no shootout, leaving the final score 3-3. A tie wasn’t enough to give the Wildcats a bid into the semifinals.
“Every game we played we were winning at one point, but penalties or just team breakdowns killed us,” Green said.
Mayer agreed that the team played well for the national tournament, but couldn’t quite execute.
“I think it went really well,” Mayer said. “We just had one game where we had a minor meltdown, and if you don’t play all 60 minutes in a national tournament, it’s tough to advance.”
Wildcats Green, Mayer, Josh Giudice and Roland Valadez were selected to play in the tournament’s charity all-star game, in which they competed against NHL St. Louise Blues alumni. Green scored two of his team’s three points in the game.
“Just playing with the guys that have been in the NHL before and seeing how they played and moved on the ice was amazing,” Mayer said.
These were the last games the seniors on the team will play for WSU.
“It’s more emotional than I thought it would be,” Mayer said. “Since we’ve been playing since the end of August with these guys, we’ve become a family, and it’s going to be hard not coming back next year.”
Green agreed that it was a good season for the Wildcats overall.
“It was probably the most fun year of hockey I’ve ever had,” Green said. “The guys have become like family. We had times where things weren’t going our way, but we battled through it.”