Coming off of six straight wins, including two wins over conference rival Utah State University, the Weber State University hockey team went for its seventh consecutive win Friday against Montana Tech of the University of Montana. The Wildcats fell behind the Orediggers early, and they were unable to climb themselves back out, falling 4-2.
The loss dropped the Wildcats to 20-11-3 on the season. The Wildcats were playing without two of their leading scorers.
“It would have helped if we would have had Jeremiah (Holmes) and Dax (Hobbs),” said WSU head coach Joe Pfleegor. “Those are two of our top scorers. When you have two of your top scorers out, it shows. But we played a good game.”
The Wildcats dominated possession of the puck through the majority of the game, outshooting the Orediggers 49-30. However, Oredigger goalie James Adamo blocked all but two of the shots.
“It’s just one of those games where you outplay them, you outshoot them, but unfortunately it’s what’s on the scoreboard that counts,” Pfleegor said. “It’s tough to lose those games.”
The Wildcats came out a little sluggish to start the game, but they picked up their play quickly.
“I thought we were a little sloppy because we just came off the bus,” said WSU freshman Alex Pizarro. “We had bus legs. They were more physical than us. They were beating us to spots. We didn’t play together as a team.”
The Wildcats had an early opportunity to get on the board on a power play in the fourth minute of the game, but they were unable to capitalize on it.
The Orediggers were the first team on the board. With 11 minutes left in the first period, junior Matt Coverdale found teammate Brendan McCalpin open and he buried the puck. That gave MT an early 1-0 lead.
The Orediggers added to their lead just one minute later. Covendale found the net off of an assist from freshman Bryon Lasher.
“It was a physical game,” Pfleegor said. “We knew it would be; they are a physical team. It just makes it more so because it is a smaller rink. Whenever you have an NHL-size rink, it’s going to be a physical game. They came out and played physical. It kind of caught us off guard a little bit.”
The Wildcats finally got on the board with seven minutes left in the period. Senior Josh Giudice found the net off of an assist from Robby Knott. That cut the lead to 2-1.
The Wildcats had two more opportunities to score on power plays, including just less than a minute of a 5-on-3, but they were unable to cash it in and went into the second period down one goal.
After outshooting the Orediggers by eight in the first period, the Wildcats were nearly matched shot for shot in the second period. The Wildcats again had troubles finding the net, including on another power-play opportunity.
The Orediggers brought their lead back to two with three minutes left in the game. This time it was McCalpin finding Coverdale for the goal. That gave the Orediggers a 3-1 lead going into the third period.
The Wildcats looked to have a chance after getting a goal with just less than three minutes left to go in the final period. On a power play, the Wildcats moved the puck around until Jake Webber found Jacob Holmes with a window and he scored the goal. That brought the game to 3-2.
The Wildcats pulled their goalie with a minute left in the game to try to send the game into overtime, but the Orediggers hit the puck away. The puck bounced off of the glass and rolled on its side right into the net, sealing the victory.
“It was kind of a rough game for us,” said WSU sophomore Riley Hazeldine. “We came out a little slow and we couldn’t catch a lot of bounces. They were going the wrong way for us. It kind of felt like a game where, as hard as we were trying to do everything right, things just weren’t going our way.”
The Wildcats played Montana Tech again on Saturday. That game will be covered in the Wednesday edition of The Signpost and on www.wsusignpost.com.