PREVIEW: #2 Utah vs #10 UNLV
December 11, 2015
Salt Lake City, UT
The first semester of the hockey season comes to a close this weekend as the University of Utah Skatin’ Utes take on the UNLV Skatin’ Rebels at home.
The Utes and Rebels have already met twice this season, with Utah picking up 3-1 and 5-2 wins at UNLV in their first two games of the season in Las Vegas. The Utes will look to continue their dominance and send the Rebels home with a pair of losses to complete the season sweep over UNLV.
Despite the close scores in the season-opening games against UNLV, the Utes controlled the pace throughout by outshooting the Rebels 52-22 and 64-14 in the two games down in Las Vegas. The Rebels are an improved team since the last time these two teams met and have won five straight going into this weekend’s games. UNLV is also in a playoff position with a #10 ranking in the West Division and will be looking to improve their ranking with an upset of the Utes.
The Rebels are 12-6 this season with losses to #2 Utah, #9 Boise State, #12 Long Beach State, and #12 UConn from the Northeast Division. Cody Williams leads the team in scoring with 39 points followed by Bryden Marsh who has 32 points. The biggest star on UNLV’s team is in between the pipes, with Terry Martin playing in 15 games for UNLV this year and posting a 9-6 record so far. His 3.51 GAA may not be among the nation’s elite, but his .902 save percentage is impressive and he gave the daunting Ute offense fits in the first two meetings with 49 and 59-save performances against Utah.
Meanwhile, the Utes are coming off a critical 5-2 win on the road at #3 Utah State last Thursday night and will be looking to end the semester on a high note and set themselves up for a good stretch run that could propel them to their second straight Nationals appearance. This weekend’s games will be the final ones against a ranked opponent until the Wasatch Cup for the Utes, so two wins against UNLV could help pave the way to an automatic bid to Nationals.
Friday night’s game is also a special one for the Utes, as the team will host its 3rd Annual Teddy Bear Toss Game. Fans are encouraged to bring a new or gently used stuffed animal to the game (which will get them in for FREE) and throw the stuffed animals on the ice when the Utes score their first goal Friday night. All the animals will be collected and donated to a local charity to help make someone’s holiday season a little brighter.
The Teddy Bear Toss game is at 9pm MT at the Utah Ice Sheet on Friday with the weekend finale happening on Saturday at 8:30pm MT. Both games will also be broadcasted live on Utah Hockey Game Day Live.
UTAH GAME NOTES
FIRST TO TWENTY
The Utes currently have an 18-2-2 record on the season and with a pair of wins against UNLV this weekend, the Utes will be the first team in the ACHA to get to 20 wins on the season. The most wins that Utah has had in team history before the Christmas break is 19 set during the 2013-2014 season, which is another record that the Utes can break this weekend with a sweep.
GOALIES CONTINUE DOMINANCE
The stellar seasons of Utah goaltenders Chis Komma and Devan Betts have been a key reason to the Utes’ success so far this season. Betts has now cracked the top ten in the nation in GAA with a 1.75 (10th in the ACHA) while Komma is right behind him in 14th with a 1.91 GAA. Both goaltenders are also in the top 30 in the nation in save percentage with Betts currently at .918 and Komma at .915.
DON’T FORGET ABOUT THE OFFENSE
While the Utes have only given up an average of 1.68 goals per game, the offense for the Utes has done remarkably well this season as well. The Utes have scored 109 goals this season, which is good enough or 2nd most in the West Division (three behind Weber State) and tied for seventh in the country. The Utes average 4.95 goals per game right now, which is currently 6th in the West Division.