PREVIEW: 2016 PAC-8 Championship
Febraury 5, 2016
South Lake Tahoe, CA
The University of Utah Skatin’ Utes will look for their second trophy in as many weeks this weekend as the team travels to South Lake Tahoe, CA for the 2016 PAC-8 Championship Tournament.
Fresh off the their Wasatch Cup title defense last weekend against BYU and #3 Utah State, the Utes will look to defend their PAC-8 trophy this time around. The Utes have won two PAC-8 Championships in their four year history in the conference, but have never won back to back titles. They’ll look to fix that this weekend.
Despite being the only team in the conference to finish undefeated in league play, the Utes will be the second seed at this year’s tournament due to their short schedule hurting them in the KRACH computer ranking system. This year’s seed for Utah is also only the second time in their now five tournament appearances that they haven’t been the number one seed. The last time was in their championship debut in 2012, when they were the second seed to Washington.
The tournament is single-elimination with the top two seeds earning a first round bye into the semifinals. Cal will join Utah in that semifinal round as they finished in first in the computer rankings. The Utes will get the highest remaining seed out of the first round as their semifinal opponent, which could be either #3 seed Washington, #4 seed Washington State, or #5 seed USC depending on who wins in the first round. Cal will get the lowest remaining seed left, which could either be WSU, USC, or the #6 seed Oregon.
After last weekend the Utes now sit at 23-2-3 on the season and currently hold the #2 spot in the ACHA West Rankings which would give the team an automatic bid to Nationals in West Chester, PA in March. Brett Myer still has the team lead in points with 48, which is also in the top 25 in the nation. Chase McDonald has overtaken fellow forward Michael Ahern for second on the team in points, with McDonald having 35 points to Ahern’s 33.
The trio of goaltenders for Utah have been stellar all season with Devan Betts posting an 11-0-2 record, Chris Komma posting a 8-2-1 record, and Jared Manzella posting a 2-0 record this year. All three goaltenders have save percentages above 87% with Komma posting a 1.91 GAA (9th in the nation), Manzella a 2.00 GAA, and Betts a 2.29 GAA on the season.
The PAC-8 Tournament kicks off on Friday at 4:30pm PT with the #4 seed Washington State taking on #5 seed USC. The #3 seed Washington will take on #6 seed Oregon in the other first round game at 7:30pm PT.
Utah’s first game of the weekend will be at 4pm PT on Saturday as they’ll take on the highest seeded winner from the first round. Cal will play the lowest remaining seed in the other semifinal at 7pm PT on Saturday.
The PAC-8 Third Place Game will be at 10am PT on Sunday morning and the PAC-8 Championship Game will be at 1pm PT on Sunday.