September 15, 2017
Salt Lake City
The road to Columbus has finally begun!
The University of Utah Skatin’ Utes officially kick off the 2017-18 season this weekend on the road as they look to make it to the ACHA Division I National Tournament for the first time in program history.
That road begins on Saturday and as usual it will start away from Salt Lake City as the Utes take on in-state rival Weber State in Ogden.
The Utes have won eight straight over their northern rivals heading into their first game of the season, and picked up 4-1, 7-1, and 6-2 wins over the Wildcats last season. The Wildcats are just one of two Division II teams that the Utes will play this season, with the other being Utah State (who Utah will play at home next week).
Saturday’s contest marks the return to the ice for several Utah veterans including Brett Myer and Nick Fornelius, who finished first and third in scoring on the team last season. Also, back on the forward side is sophomore Alex King who led all rookies in scoring last season. On the blue line, Utah returns all eight of their defensemen from a season ago including vets like Tyler Pendill as well as a trio of sophomores in Tristen Leberknight, Cody West, and Guy Petrie – who were the top three scoring defensemen on the team last season. Also making his return in between the pipes is Patrick Kasper, who had a phenomenal freshman season and will look to do even better in his sophomore campaign.
In addition to the vets making their way back to the ice, the Utes will welcome seven new rookies to the fold that will wear the Utah uniform for the first time on Saturday. Joining the vets will be Oklahoma D1 transfer Darren Banks, high school products Reiss Jensen, Joe Hughes and Jake Slaugh, Matthew Perry from the WSHL, Colby Birch and Otto Chao from the NA3HL and NAPHL respectively.
The Utes will look to extend their 22-game win streak against in-state opponents on Saturday as well when they take on a Wildcat team that’s seen some changes of their own since a season ago. Weber State – who made it to Regionals at the Division II level a season ago – are still led by captain Jake Webber and return nine of their top ten scorers from a season ago. But missing this season is leading scorer Dax Hobbs. The Wildcats will look to fill his shoes as well as improve on the defensive side, after giving up the third most goals in the West Division and 7th most in all of Division II a season ago.
The Wildcats will have a game to prepare themselves for Utah, as they’ll open their season at home against Utah State on Friday.
Saturday night’s season opener for Utah will be at 7:30pm MT at the Ogden Ice Sheet in Ogden, UT.