Fights break out in hockey loss to USU

201309139-13 Hockey (Lauren Crest)-3
(Photo by Lauren Crest)
Weber State University hockey player Josh Giudice races for the puck in a game against Utah State University earlier this season. The Wildcats lost to the Aggies 7-5 on Saturday.

As the old saying goes, “We went to a fight and a hockey game broke out.” Utah State University defeated the Weber State University hockey team 7-5 Saturday night. In the final two minutes of the game, eight players, four from each side, were kicked out of the game for fighting.

“We had a couple of fights at the end,” said WSU head coach Joe Pfleegor. “They were mutual. There was nothing malicious about them. They were just mutual fights. It’s a part of the game; it happens, especially when you are playing a team like that. Whenever you have a one-goal game or a close game, it can get like that.”

The loss was the first conference loss for the Wildcats, dropping them to 6-1-2 and an overall record of 9-9-2.

“We had a 60-minute effort but, unfortunately, what cost us the game were turnovers,” Pfleegor said. “It was just the little things. Unfortunately, we turned the puck over too many times inside our own zone and it cost us.”

The Wildcats wasted no time getting on the board. After neither team could control the puck to start, Phill Jennrich found the puck behind the Aggie goal just 36 seconds into the game and shot the puck to teammate Robby Knott, who found the nylon.

201309139-13 Hockey (Lauren Crest)-5
(Photo by Lauren Crest)
Weber State University hockey player Dax Hobbs fights for the puck in a game against Utah State University. Hobbs scored two goals in the loss to the Aggies on Saturday.

The Aggies took the lead with 14 minutes left in the first period. After a shot made it past the goalie but was deemed a no-goal, the Aggies were undeterred, bringing the puck right back down and scoring as junior Chase Allington found the back of the net.

The Wildcats tied up the score midway through the first period as Jennrich got another assist, this one going to sophomore Landon Aylor, tying the game up at 2-2.

The Aggies retook the lead just minutes later as they pressured the net and freshman Sam Lindquist found sophomore Julian Herrera for the goal.

The Aggies had a chance near the end of the period to pad their lead on back-to-back power-play opportunities, but they were unable to capitalize.

In fact, it was the Wildcats who lucked out as a shot went off of Ian Frank. Sophomore Dax Hobbs chased the puck all the way down the ice and shot it right past the shoulder of Aggie goalie Keagan McHenry, ending the first period with the score at 3-3.

“I thought that we came out pretty strong,” Jennrich said. “The second period, I think we really picked our game up. That was a lot better period for us.”

After a goal to break the tie, the Aggies went up two goals as freshman Brad Swampy found the net near the end of the second period on an assist from junior Derek Fontaine. That gave USU a 5-3 lead going into the third period.

The Wildcats got right back into the game at the start of the third period, when USU was one man down on a power play.

WSU wasted no time, controlling the puck the entire power play. Jennrich got his third assist of the game, this one to senior Braxton Green, bringing the Wildcats to within one goal.

The Aggies regained their two-goal lead with 15 minutes to go as freshman Derrek Shoup received a pass from sophomore Robby Orr and rifled the puck into the net, giving the Aggies a 6-4 lead.

Tempers flared late in the period, as several incidences culminated in three more fights that sent multiple players into the locker room with ejections.

“Even after those fights, we had a minute and a half left, and we had a chance to tie the game and they had the empty net goal,” Pfleegor said. “In the end, the team that made the most mistakes lost. We made one more mistake than them, and it cost us the game.”

After all was said and done, the Wildcats showed a glimmer of hope as Hobbs stole a pass and sneaked the puck into the net. But all was for naught, as the Wildcats pulled their goalie and the Aggies were able to steal the pass and throw the puck into the empty net, ending the game.

The Wildcats will now travel to California to take on Loyola Marymount University on Friday and Saturday.

“I think if we can take that energy from those fights and that anger from losing to Utah State and put them towards the games we have on Friday and Saturday, I have a good feeling that we can come out of there with two wins,” Jennrich said.