February 9, 2015
Lake Tahoe, California
The Utah Utes have added another title to their trophy case after winning the 2015 PAC-8 Championship in Lake Tahoe last weekend.
In the single-elimination tournament, the Utes received the number one seed and earned a bye into the semifinal round. In that second round the Utes would take on Washington, who beat UCLA 5-2 in the first round of the tournament.
The Utes started strong early, putting up three goals in the first period and five more in the second as the Utes cruised to a 9-2 victory and their third win of the season over the Huskies. With the win, the Utes earned a berth in their fourth straight PAC 8 Championship game, keeping their streak alive of being in the championship game each year that the team has been in the conference.
Their opponent for the 2015 title would be the same squad that the Utes faced when they won their first PAC-8 title, as Oregon beat USC in the other semifinal 4-1 to set up another Utah-Oregon championship game. The Utes beat the Ducks 4-2 in the 2013 PAC-8 Championship that was hosted by USC in Anaheim.
This year’s championship games started out even until Utah found the back of the net halfway through the first period as Dangel scored to give Utah a 1-0 lead. The Utes would add another goal before the period ended and the Utes led 2-0 after twenty minutes of play.
After an even second period that so no goals for either side, the penalty bug bit hard in the third for both teams as the period was littered with penalties on both sides. In a period that saw very little even strength hockey, the Utes put two more behind the Ducks’ net before tempers reached a boiling point as Caden Ottley and Michael Luke squared off and were ejected for fighting immediately after Utah’s goal that made it 4-0 Utah.
After Oregon scored a shorthanded goal after the fight, the Utes added one last goal late in the game as the Utes skated to a 5-1 win and their second PAC-8 Championship.
The Utes now have two PAC-8 Championships in their four years as members of the conference, and add the trophy to the case that also holds the first ever Wasatch Cup, which the Utes won last weekend. With the championship win, the Utes are now tied for third in the conference for all time conference championships, trailing only Oregon with three and USC with eight.
The Utes will look for their third and biggest trophy of the season when the team hosts the 2015 National Championships in March.
In addition to the team trophy, several Utes earned individual conference honors as well. Chase McDonald, Kurtis Kunz, and Chris Komma all picked up 1st Team All-PAC 8 honors while Josh Dangel was named to the second team and Ben Seastrand was named to the third team. All five of the Utes were also selected to be members of the PAC-8 All Star team that will compete in the ACHA All Star Challenge in Pennsylvania in April.
Utah finishes the regular season this weekend on the road as the Utes take on #9 Utah State and #4 Boise State this Friday and Saturday.