December 31, 2015
Salt Lake City, UT
Another record-breaking calendar year of Utah Hockey is now officially in the books, and as the team continues its best season in club history it’s time to look back at what happened in 2015 for the Skatin’ Utes.
From another conference title to their debut at Nationals, here are the top ten moments of 2015 for the University of Utah Hockey team!
#10: Utes Go Undefeated in PAC-8 Play in 2015
Since the Utes joined the PAC-8 Hockey Conference back in 2011, the Utes have been the face of the conference appearing in four conference championship games in four years and winning the conference title in 2013 and 2015.
The Utes were able to gain another milestone over the last twelve months in the conference, something that they haven’t done since they joined the conference. For the first time, the Utes finished the calendar year undefeated in conference play going 10-0 over the last twelve months against the PAC-8. The Utes will look for their 3rd Conference Title in February at the 2016 PAC-8 Championships in Lake Tahoe.
#9: December 12th, Utes win 20th Game of Semester vs UNLV, Sets New Record
The 2015-2016 season has been the best one ever for the Utes so far, as they posted a 19-2-2 record going into the final game before the Christmas break. The Utes took on #10 UNLV at home trying to get to 20 wins at the semester break for the first time in team history.
The Utes got things done on the ice by winning 5-3 to get that 20th win which set the new team record for wins in one semester. The previous record was 19, set in the 2013-2014 season where the Utes finished the semester with a 19-6 record. In addition to Utah setting its own new record, the Utes also became the first team in the country this season to get to 20 wins on the season.
#8: Utah Sets New Ranking Record by being Ranked 2nd in West
The Utes set a new team record a season ago by being ranked 3rd in the ACHA West Division, the highest rankings that the team has ever received. With their success this season, the Utes broke that record by setting a new one.
The Utes were unanimous picks for the 2nd place spot in the first three ACHA West Rankings, which sets a new record for the team. If the Utes can hold on to that spot for one more ranking (only one left in February), the Utes will earn their second straight automatic bid to Nationals and their first without hosting the tournament.
#7: Utah’s Unbeaten Streak Sets New Team Records
Two years ago the Utes had their best start to a season by going 13-0 in their first 13 games, which set new team records for a start to a season and set their longest unbeaten streak in team history. Like with their ranking this year, the Utes one-upped themselves by going even farther into the season unbeaten and set some new records.
The Utes went 18 games before recording their first loss of the season posting a 16-0-2 record before losing to Northern Arizona in the Beehive Showcase. The streak broke both of the previous records that were set two years ago and included 10 wins over ranked opponents over that span.
#6: Utes Set New Streak for Not Trailing
Over the span of Utah’s record-setting unbeaten streak, there was another stat line during the run that was even more impressive than just skating away without a loss. At the beginning of the season, Utah found itself down by a goal after the first period against UNLV in the season opener. When Josh Dangel scored less than two minutes into the second period, the Utes would go on to set a record that will surely never be broken.
Over the 18-game streak the Utes only trailed in the season opener (for just over 11 minutes), and from then on the Utes either held the lead or remain tied against their opponents for the entire remainder of the streak. The Utes finished the streak at 955 minutes and 39 seconds without falling behind to an opponent, a streak that will stand in Utah Hockey lore for years to come.
#5: November 20th, Bertagnolli Breaks Career Assists Record
For those who have been fans of the Utah Hockey program since its inception back in 2006, the name Michael Vrtis will be a familiar one as the forward was near the top in scoring for the Utes each of his five seasons at the U from 2007 to 2012. Thanks to his stellar play, he currently holds the career records for goals, assists, and points with some numbers that looked like they wouldn’t be broken for a while. Until another fifth-year player broke one of those records this season.
Shaymus Bertagnolli is currently sixth on the team in points this season with 22, but on day two of the Beehive Showcase against NAU Bertagnolli was able to break Vrtis’ record for career assists with his 121st assist on a goal early in the second period. Bertagnolli now has 122 assists and currently holds the record, but he has company near the top of the list with Chase McDonald just five assists behind him.
#4: February 8th, Utes Win 2nd PAC-8 Championship
We mentioned earlier that since the Utes joined the PAC-8 Conference they’ve been the face of league, appearing in every championship game since they joined the conference. Unfortunately for the Utes, they were 1-2 in those games heading into the 2015 PAC-8 title game as they looked to even their record in the championship game and pick up their second PAC-8 title.
After beating Washington 9-2 in the semifinals, the Utes took on their biggest conference rival in the Oregon Ducks in a very testy and penalty-ridden championship game. After sixty minutes and 156 combined penalty minutes later, the Utes came out victorious with a 5-1 and were able to capture their second PAC-8 title. They’ll go for their third and their first repeat in February.
#3: January 31st, Utah Beats Utah State in 3OT to win Wasatch Cup
For years the in state schools here in Utah have played each other on multiple occasions each year and each school has claimed bragging rights against one another despite the teams playing a different amount of games against each other. The teams decided to put those bragging rights on the line last year as the Wasatch Cup was born, a two day tournament to decide the best team in Utah.
The Utes were able to get by BYU in the first round of the tournament by winning 7-4 which set up a matchup in the final with Utah State, who beat Weber State 3-1 in the first round. The Aggies would score first in the championship game and led 1-0 after the first period. Kurtis Kunz would score a power play goal in the second to tie the game at 1-1 and that’s where the score would stay as the game would end tied a t 1-1.
After a scoreless first overtime, the Utes took a delay of game penalty with a minute to go which gave Utah State a penalty shot and chance to win the game. The Aggies’ chance was denied by goaltender Chris Komma which helped force a third overtime. Early in that next period, the Aggies would then take their own delay of game penalty and give Utah their own chance to win with a penalty shot. The Utes would capitalize on their chance as Josh Dangel scored on the penalty shot to give Utah the 2-1 triple-overtime win and give the Utes the inaugural Wasatch Cup Title.
The Utes will look to defend their title at the end of January as Weber State hosts this year’s tournament.
#2: March 20th, Utes Make First Trip to Nationals
When the Utes announced that they would be hosting the 2015 ACHA National Championship tournament, they already knew they had a spot locked up to the event as the host received an automatic bid to the championships. With that burden lifted, the Utes put together a tough and grueling schedule to prepare themselves for the five-day tournament.
When the Utes finally made it to Nationals, they felt they were ready to compete with the Nation’s Elite Teams. They did so on the first day of the tournament by beating Missouri State – the 2nd ranked team from the Central Division – 4-2 to get the program’s first ever win at Nationals in school history. The Utes came up just short of upsetting the #1 team from the Southeast and title-favorite Florida Gulf Coast by losing 4-3 but finished up with a 5-3 win over Northeastern to finish 2-1 in pool play, finishing 2nd in their pool and just missing out on the semifinals. Although the outcome wasn’t what the Utes wanted, they still proved they now belong not only with the West’s elite but the National elite as well.
#1: Utah Finishes 2014-2015 Season Ranked 6th in the Nation
One of the special accolades that all the teams that advanced to Nationals get is to be included in the only national ranking that the ACHA gives at the end of the season. The teams are sorted out by their performance at Nationals and given a final ranking among the top 16 teams in the country.
Thanks to Utah’s impressive 2-1 record at Nationals, the Utes were able to earn a top ten final ranking, as they finished the season ranked 6th in the nation. The Utes also finished as the 2nd best team from the West Division, which both set new team records for Utah. With the Utes attempting to secure an automatic bid to Nationals this year, the team will look to improve on their personal record and attempt to win a National Championship.
Everyone here at Utah Hockey would like to thank everyone and all the fans and volunteers that made 2015 such a special season for the Utes. We look forward to what 2016 will bring and hope to see you all along for the ride!