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WSU hockey loses tension-filled game to Utes

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(Photo by Lauren Crest) Weber State University freshman Tyler Arnold makes play on the boards in a game against the Park City Pioneers earlier this season. The Wildcats lost a tough match Saturday night to the University of Utah.

While the famous rivalry football game went on in Provo on Saturday night, another heated rivalry was put on ice. The Weber State University hockey team traveled to Salt Lake City to take on the Skatin’ Utes of the University of Utah. The Wildcats fell 4-1, losing their first game of the season.

During the game, the Wildcats dominated the puck, outshooting the Utes by more than 20 shots. But they were unable to capitalize on opportunities. The game was contentious from start to finish.

“We dominated the whole game,” said WSU head coach Joe Pfleegor. “When you get that many opportunities, you got to capitalize on them. And we didn’t do that, and it came back to haunt us.”

The Wildcats had a good opportunity early in the game when one Ute player was ejected and another was sent to the penalty box, giving WSU a 5-on-3 power play for almost 10 minutes. But the Wildcats were unable to capitalize on the advantage.

“The University of Utah took a lot of penalties,” said WSU senior Josh Giudice. “We were on the power play most of the first period. We should have had three or four goals right there, but we couldn’t put it away. It was a game that we shouldn’t have lost. We lost it ourselves.”

Ute goalie Chris Komma was busy the whole game, especially during the first quarter during the extended power plays. The Wildcats outshot the Utes 27-11 in the first period, but neither team was able to score. The first period ended tied 0-0.

“Their goalie played really well,” said WSU team captain Braxton Green. “He stood on his head and won the game for them. We were shooting on net. We were doing everything right. He played a great game. We can’t take that away from him.”

The Wildcats got on the board first six minutes into the second period when Giudice scored off of an assist from Kody Rodriguez, putting the Wildcats up 1-0.

The Utes got on the board soon after when freshman Chase McDonald snagged a rebound off of WSU goalie Ian Frank and found the back of the net.

The Utes took the lead with three minutes left in the period when sophomore Shaymus Bertagnolli took the puck off of a rebound save from Frank and found the net. That brought the score to 2-1 in favor of the Utes when the period ended. The Wildcats outshot the Utes 19-16 in the second period.

In the third period, tempers continued to flare when there was another ejection, this time against WSU. On the power play, McDonald caught a rebound off of Frank and found the back of the goal for his second goal. This brought the lead to 3-1.

The Utes scored in the final seconds, as the Wildcats had pulled their goalie. Bertagnolli took a rebound off of Komma and fired it into the net from 90 yards away, sealing the win for the Utes, 4-1.

The Wildcats outshot the Utes 63-39. WSU was also 0-9 on power-play opportunities.

“In hockey, 60 is a lot of shots,” Giudice said. “With that many shots, you should be winning the game.”

The Wildcats will travel to Tempe, Ariz., on Friday to take on the Arizona State University Division I hockey team. WSU will then face a doubleheader against the ASU Division II team.

“They are going to be a lot bigger in size,” said Giudice of ASU’s Division I team. “They are all good athletes. We have to come out as a team and use our speed. We got to support each other on the ice and have good communication.”

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