October 26, 2015
Salt Lake City, UT
The tremendous start to the season for the University of Utah Skatin’ Utes continued last weekend as the Utes picked up another win and draw against Northern Arizona to keep their unbeaten streak alive.
On Friday, the Utes took on the IceJacks for the first time this season in a series that has over the last several years had major ranking implications at the end of the year. Over the last three seasons, the Icejacks have finished just ahead of Utah in the final ranking thanks to a season series victory over the Utes.
Utah looked to reverse that trend this weekend and started off strong once again, as Josh Dangel scored with 12:41 left in the first period to give Utah a 1-0 lead. NAU would come back and tie the game on a power play goal with 4:00 left in the opening period, but Utah had the last laugh in the first as Shaymus Bertagnolli beat the buzzer and put the Utes ahead 2-1 just as time expired in the opening period.
Bertagnolli would score his second of the game just four minutes into the second period, pushing Utah’s lead to 3-1 early in the middle period. The two goal lead would be short lived however, as NAU would find yet another power play goal to cut Utah’s lead to 3-2 going into the third period.
It looked like the Utes would cruise to a one-goal lead as neither team could pull ahead in the third period, but NAU would spoil Utah’s plans as they scored the game-tying goal with 54.6 seconds left to make it 3-3 and force overtime. Both teams would have chances in the extra frame, but neither team could find the back of the net and the Utes and IceJacks would settle for a 3-3 draw.
The tie marks Utah’s second one this season after tying Utah State earlier in the season. The Utes outshot NAU 40-31 in the game. Devan Betts pushed his record to 4-0-1 in goal for Utah, picking up 28 saves in Friday’s game.
On Saturday the Utes looked to pick up a win in the weekend finale and once again wasted no time scoring early in the game. Caden Ottley fired a shot just 1:34 into the game which found its way past NAU goaltender Seth Kollman and the Utes would take a 1-0 lead just 94 seconds into the game. Much like Friday night’s game, NAU would have an answer for Utah’s early lead as the IceJacks scored with 2:16 left in the first period to knot the game up a 1-1 heading into the second period.
The Utes looked like they were finally going to put NAU away in the second period, as the Utes scored three goals in a span of 3:40 and led 4-1 with 12:20 left in the second period. But like almost every game this season, the Utes’ opponent would find a way back into the game. Benoit Cousineau and Jacob Pascale would score for NAU in the final five minutes of the second period and cut Utah’s lead to 4-3 going into the third period.
Trying not to repeat what happened on Friday night, the Utes came out flying in the third period and controlled the pace for most of the final period. Although the Utes wouldn’t find the back of the net in the third, they made sure NAU wouldn’t either as the Utes were abel to hold off a late rally and pick up a 4-3 win over the IceJacks.
The Utes would outshoot NAU again, this time by a tally of 40-27. Betts picked up his fifth win of the season in goal for Utah, stopping 24 of 27 shots he faced Saturday night.
With the weekend’s results, the Utes finish the first ranking period with an unbeaten record of 9-0-2, which ties the best start for a Utah hockey team since the club reformed back in 2006. The Utes started the 2013-2014 season with 11 straight wins before taking their first loss.
While the wins for Utah this year haven’t been blowouts as in the past, the Utes have been effective during their time on the ice. In the nine games Utah has played so far this season (two games were forfeit wins), the Utes haven’t trailed in a game since the first period of the season opener at UNLV, where they only trailed for 11 minutes and 17 seconds.
The Utes have one more game in the month of October, as the Utes head down to Provo on Friday to wrap up the season series with the BYU Cougars. The Utes beat BYU 10-1 at home earlier this season and will look for their 24th win in a row over their southern rivals on Friday.