With a two-goal lead and having dominated the puck for nearly 40 minutes, the Weber State University hockey team fell apart in the third period and lost to the University of Utah 3-2. The Wildcats dropped to 3-6-1 on the year, while the Utes improved to 7-0.
“We dominated the first period, we dominated the second,” said WSU sophomore Dax Hobbs. “Then we kind of let down for a little bit in the third, and it cost us. Especially at that rink, their fans, once they get a little bit of momentum, it just continues and continues. We gave them a little bit and they took it in the end.”
The Wildcats had troubles against the Utes two weeks ago, as they were unable to get anything going, losing 4-1.
The Wildcats got on the board first at eight minutes as Hobbs broke away from the Ute defense to snag a loose puck. Hobbs made a quick fake and found the back of the net to put WSU up 1-0.
The Wildcats’ defense held firm on three Ute power plays in the first period. Goalie Ian Frank, who struggled against the Utes in the first meeting between the teams, was able to hold off the Ute attack in the first period.
The Wildcats added to their lead with three minutes left in the first period as freshman Alex Pizarro received a pass from senior Braxton Green and sneaked the puck past Ute goalie Chris Komma.
The Wildcats were outshot in the period 12-7, but were able to capitalize on two shots and hold off the Utes with good power-play defense.
The Wildcats had chances to pad their lead on a power play early in the second period, but were unable to convert on multiple chances against Komma, who made several diving saves to keep the score at 2-0.
“We had a lot of opportunities to go up 3-0,” said WSU head coach Joe Pfleegor. “It just came back to haunt us in the end. A two-goal lead in hockey is the most dangerous lead in hockey. That next goal scored can either put you ahead by three and put it away pretty much, or it’s going to be a one-goal game. And we could just not bury that puck in the second, we just couldn’t finish.”
The game was a little more heated in the second period, as members of both teams were penalized for fighting. But nothing came of it, as neither team was able to score.
The Wildcats had possession of the puck for the majority of the second period, outshooting the Utes in the period.
The Utes climbed back into the game in the beginning of the third period, as freshman Andrew Wood scored on a pass from freshman Michael Ahern to bring the score to 2-1 with 19 minutes to go in the game.
After being dominated for the first two periods, the Utes controlled the puck for the majority of the third period.
“I thought we outplayed them for most of the game,” Pfleegor said. “But unfortunately, it’s 60 minutes and you got to outplay them for 60 minutes. They got a couple of good shots at the end, what do you do?”
The Utes tied up the score with four minutes left, as another power play gave the Utes the advantage. Ryan Hurras received the pass from freshman Josh Dangel and found the net with just one second left on the power play.
Just 37 seconds later, the Utes took the lead as freshman Kurtis Kunz took a shot from the blue line and placed it past Frank’s glove, giving the Utes a 3-2 lead.
WSU had two chances to tie up the score, both by Hobbs, but both shots went off the crossbar.
“That’s as frustrating as it gets,” Hobbs said. “It sucks when you hear the ping and then it goes over. But bounces can go your way or they can go against you, and they were definitely against us. We got to fight through that.”
The Wildcats finished 0-7 on power plays against the Utes. The Utes won the shot total, outshooting WSU 36-33.
The Wildcats traveled to Logan to face Utah State University on Saturday night. The game will be covered in Wednesday’s issue of The Signpost, as well as online at www.wsusignpost.com.