For the first time this season, the Weber State University hockey team took the ice against in-state rivals the Utah State University Aggies and the BYU Cougars. The Wildcats dropped their home opener Sept. 20 5–4 in OT to the Aggies before taking down the Cougars 4–2 Saturday night.
“We got 15 new players,” head coach Alan Kapinos said. “I thought they came out and played well. We have a couple things we need to clean up, but I loved the effort, the energy and everything they did.”
Both teams fans came out in support as an Aggies and Weber State chant broke out just as the teams came to center ice for the first face-off of the night.
The Wildcats showed it was early in the season when a WSU forwarded committed a penalty in the defensive zone and the Aggies found themselves up a man.
USU capitalized on the early momentum and found themselves with a 1–0 lead before most of the crowd could even purchase a ticket at the front door.
The ’Cats were able to grab some momentum when the Aggies committed their first penalty. On an assist from Jakob Besnilian, William Fobair found the back of the net tying the game at one a piece.
The Wildcats continued to have the man advantage as the Aggies continued to find themselves in the sin bin with penalty after penalty. WSU had every opportunity to grab the lead but the Aggies power kill remained strong.
Fobair found the back of the net for the second time after he dangled past a USU defender and snipped his shot over the Aggies net minder’s glove hand. The Aggies answered back with three minutes left in the first and both teams entered the first break tied at two.
Both teams came back onto the ice for the second period with a different feel to the game. The stands were now packed as everyone who was waiting in line to purchase a ticket was now in the building and both teams had gotten the early season jitters out the way.
Fobair was able to find the back of the net for his third time, a hat trick goal, and gave the Wildcats a 3–2 lead before they entered the final break of the night.
“The guys had screens in front of the net, taking away the goalies eyes tonight,” Fobair said. “USU’s goalie wasn’t really able to see the shot and it worked out.”
As the clock struck 9:30 p.m. the teams entered the ice one last time to an ovation of banging buckets from the standing room only Destruction Zone.
USU quickly stopped the noise with a tying goal just 30 seconds into the period and both teams were notched with 19 minutes to play.
Weber State’s defenseman Kody Goodwin had an answer from the top of the slot giving WSU a 4–3 lead just two minutes later on a crisp pass from forward Joel Johnson.
The momentum continued to stay on the Wildcat’s side when the Aggies went down two men, but on a missed passed USU found themselves with a breakaway and another tie game with just over eight minutes remaining.
As the final minutes ticked down the crowd continued to chant “Let’s go Weber,” but regulation time was not enough for the two teams. The ’Cats and Aggies were going to four on four, five minute sudden death overtime.
The ’Cats again went down a man in overtime, and on a deflected pass, the Aggies found the back of the net for the fifth time and beat the Wildcats 5–4.
“Some of the penalties comes from all the new guys learning how the refs call games in this league,” Kapinos said. “There is a lot of questionable calls that aren’t called anywhere else. Guys just aren’t used to that after coming from big time youth leagues.”
After falling to the USU Aggies in their home opener, the Wildcats took the ice for the second consecutive night this time against the BYU Cougars.
“BYU is just one of those schools that doesn’t quit,” Kapinos said. “They just keep fighting and fighting ‘till we quit on ourselves.”
Both teams’ defenses and goalies played aggressive, and the Wildcats and Cougars entered the first break tied at zero.
The Cougars got the scoring started just five minutes into the second period, finally breaking the scoreless tie.
Forward Andrew Gorges had an answer when he found the back of the net for the Wildcats first goal, tying it at one a piece.
Goodwin found himself on a breakaway in the third period, giving WSU their first lead of the night that was backed up a few moments later when Nesnilian gave the ’Cats a comfortable 3–1 lead.
Before time expired, Nesnilian added another goal and the Wildcats split the weekend with a 4–2 victory over the BYU Cougars.
The ’Cats will hit the road for the next few weeks before returning to play the Providence Friars on Oct. 11 and the Utah Valley Wolverines Oct. 12.