The Weber State University hockey team had its five-game winning streak snapped over the weekend, losing twice to Arizona State University. The Wildcats improved on their two losses to ASU earlier, but were still unable to pull out a victory Saturday or Sunday, dropping to 8-8-2 on the season.
“We played a lot better, but it’s 60 minutes,” said WSU head coach Joe Pfleegor. “If you don’t, these teams we are playing are No. 1 for a reason. You’ve got to have 60 minutes from everybody, not just your superstars. And we didn’t have that tonight.”
Neither team had the upper hand in the beginning of the game Saturday, as both teams had several opportunities to gain the early lead. Both goalies kicked aside multiple attempts at goals, leaving the score knotted at 0-0.
The Wildcats hit hard in the first period, sending two players into the locker room with injuries.
“That’s our style of play,” said WSU senior Josh Giudice. “We come out banging, forechecking and playing physical. When we are not forechecking and we are not hitting and playing our game, when you play a team like ASU, they will capitalize.”
ASU was the first on the board with five and a half minutes to go in the first period. WSU tied the game back up just 45 seconds later. Giudice took a rebound off of a shot from freshman Jake Webber that was just outside the reach of the goalie, and he found the back of the net. That tied the score at 1-1.
“I saw Webber open up top and passed it to him,” Giudice said. “He one-timed it, it hit the goalie, then hit one guy, and the rebound popped out right there and I put it in. It was lucky; it kind of just fell in my lap.”
Brawls started toward the end of the period as three Wildcats and two Sun Devils were sent to the penalty box for fighting and roughing. One of the Sun Devils was ejected from the game.
The Wildcats again committed a penalty in the early going of the second period. The Sun Devils capitalized in the fifth minute of the period, taking the lead on a goal from senior Ryan Mohr, with the assist going to sophomore Coda Engbar.
WSU scored just three minutes later as sophomore Dax Hobbs outhustled the Sun Devil defense, juked a defender and rifled the puck past the goalie’s stick. That goal brought the score to 2-2.
The intensity level took a turn in the latter parts of the second period, as each team had one chance after another to score, but both goalies shone as they knocked aside shot after shot.
ASU finally sneaked one past goalie Ian Frank with six minutes to go in the second period. Mohr once again had the goal for ASU, bringing the score to 3-2.
“I thought we set the precedence by playing physical,” Pfleegor said. “For whatever reason, we had the power play going, we had the momentum in the second period, and after that power play we came out flat. It was almost like everyone was waiting for someone else to step up and play.”
The Sun Devils padded their lead in the third period, scoring five minutes in and giving them a 4-2 lead. They added another goal with 11 minutes to go. The Wildcats attempted a comeback as senior Robby Knott found the net on a power-play goal with the assist from freshman Kody Rodriguez. However, that was all the team could muster, falling 5-3 and breaking its winning streak.
The Wildcats played ASU again on Sunday, falling 4-3 in the final seconds. The Wildcats took a 3-1 lead into the third period as Phill Jennrich continued his scoring hot streak with two goals.
“Phill right now is playing at his best. He’s definitely playing at the next level,” Pfleegor said. “He’s definitely playing at his best, and it’s a huge asset.”
The Sun Devils began their comeback with nine minutes left in the game, scoring a goal to make it just a one-score game. ASU tied the game with three minutes left and took the lead with only 30 seconds left to win the game.
The Wildcats will return to play on Saturday as they once again face the University of Utah. The Wildcats defeated the Utes on Friday 5-3. The game will be at the Weber County Ice Sheet at 7:30 p.m.