February 6, 2017
Salt Lake City, UT
The University of Utah Skatin’ Utes had their first ACHA Division I home games in school history this past weekend and came away with a split against the 6th ranked team in the country.
On Friday, the Utes began their weekend series against the Jamestown Jimmies looking for payback after a pair of losses to Jamestown back in the second week of the season in September. It was a hard-hitting first period between the two teams as they went back and forth with a couple of good chances. The Jimmies got on the board first late in the first period after the puck was loose in the Utah goal crease, bouncing around a couple of times before just barely crossing the goal line for the first goal of the game.
The Jimmies would hold on to that lead until late in the third period, as the Utes came time and time again at the Jamestown goal but couldn’t find the answer goal. Then after a late penalty taken by the Utes with just minutes to go, the Jimmies capitalized with a power play goal to make it 2-0 with 3:12 left in the game. The Utes would try to mount one last comeback in the final minutes, but no goal would come for the Utes as they fell to Jamestown 2-0.
The loss snapped Utah’s 26-game home unbeaten streak and was the first time that the Utes have been shutout at home since November of 2014. The Jimmies outshot the Utes 44-33 in the game as Patrick Kasper made 42 saves in his first loss of his college career.
On Saturday, the Utes looked to bounce back from Friday’s loss against the Jimmies and they took their first lead of the weekend with 5:10 to go in the first period. Utah’s Julian Cronan found the puck right off a faceoff in the Jamestown end and fired a shot just past Jimmie goaltender Tyson Brouwer to give the Utes a 1-0 lead. The Utes weren’t done as they doubled their lead just 17 seconds later as Cronan found a loose puck in the Jamestown end and beat Brouwer on the glove side to make it 2-0 Utah late in the first period. The Jimmies would respond before the period ended, as the Utes got in penalty trouble. On a 4-on 3 power play, the Jimmies would fire a shot from the top of the point that beat Kasper and made it 2-1 after the first period.
In the second period, the Jimmies would get another controversial goal six minutes in to tie the game at 2-2. After a shot from the point, the puck was loose in front of the Utah net once again and the jimmies would pounce on it to tie the game. After reviewing the play after the contest, the puck looked like it was clearly kicked in by a forward in front, but was ruled a good goal on the ice. Neither team would score the rest of the period, and the game would be tied 2-2 going to the third period.
In the final period, the Utes were able to capitalize on a power play of their own as Connor Meaney picked up a rebound in front of the net and turned around for a shot that made its way past Brouwer to give Utah the 3-2 lead. The lead would be short lived for the Utes though, as they got in penalty trouble once again with nine minutes left in the game. The Jimmies would score off a tipped shot from the point on the ensuing power play to tie the game at 3-3. Both teams would have a couple of chances to score down the stretch but no goals were scored as the game stayed at 3-3 heading to overtime.
It was a defensive battle in the extra period as both teams had only a couple looks to score in the extra five minutes. The overtime period would go by scoreless, meaning that for the first time since January of 2013 the home fans would see a game decided in a shootout. The Jimmies outshot the Utes 47-37 in the game, including shots in overtime.
In the shootout, both goaltenders kept the shooters from each team at bay during the three round as neither team was able to score a goal in the three regulation rounds. In the fourth round, Josh Dangel looked for redemption after ringing the post on his previous shot in the shootout. As he did in the first Wasatch Cup final, Dangel scored on the glove side to give the Utes a 1-0 lead in the shootout. With the Jimmies needing to score to keep the shootout going, Kasper was able to force the shot wide of the net and sealed the win for the Utes in the shootout.
The 4-3 shootout win is the first ACHA Division I home win for the Utes in program history. It’s also the highest-ranked team that the Utes have ever beat in program history, with the Jimmies holding the #6 ranking in the country. Kapser picked up his seventh win of the season and third D1 win of the year, making 44 saves in the game.
With the split on the weekend, the Utes are n ow 18-8 on the season and 5-8 in Division I play. The Utes have just four games left before the field of 20 will be decided for Nationals.
Up next, the Utes hit the road for the final time as they take on another top ten team in the 8th ranked Iowa State Cyclones Friday and Saturday in Ames, Iowa.