Utah Wins 2nd Straight Wasatch Cup
January 31, 2016
The second annual Wasatch Cup took place in Ogden over the weekend and for the second straight year, the Utes are the Wasatch Cup champions.
The two-day tournament hosted by Weber State started on Friday afternoon as Utah looked for their 25th straight win over the BYU Cougars in the first semifinal.
The Utes wasted no time scoring as Michael Ahern and Josh Dangel would score in the first ten minutes to give Utah a 2-0 lead halfway through the first period. BYU would have an answer for Utah’s two goals as they scored a pair of their own in two minutes to tie the game at 2-2. Carl Bombardier and Erik Soderlund would score two more for Utah before the first period ended and Utah held a 4-2 after the first twenty minutes.
In the second the Cougars would have another answer to Utah’s goals, scoring twice in the first eight minutes of the second period to tie the game again, this time a 4-4. This time the Utes would respond a minute later and Brett Myer scored to give Utah a 5-4 lead with 11:21 left in the second period. BYU would score again with 7:59 left to tie it for the third time, but Nick Fornelius would score to make it 6-5 Utah as the second period ended.
The third period would start out with yet another equalizer for BYU, as they tied the game with 17:48 remaining in the game. The Utes would jump ahead again with 6:08 left as Shaymus Bertagnolli scored to make it 7-6. But the Cougars would come back one last time with a power play goal with 3:46 left to tie the game at 7-7. Neither team would score the rest of regulation so the game would be decided in overtime.
Two five-minute overtime periods would go by with multiple chances to win for Utah but the Utes could not find the back of the net which led to a third overtime period, this one lasting twenty minutes. In the third overtime, Utah would get three quick chances on the BYU goal within seconds, leading to Josh Dangel redirecting a shot by Kurtis Kunz into the BYU net to give Utah an 8-7 triple overtime win.
The Utes would outshoot the Cougars 62-35 in the game. While the game officially went into the record books as a tie after the first overtime (ACHA rules), the win still punched Utah’s ticket to the championship game as the Utes would take on Utah State for the second straight year after the Aggies beat Weber State 4-2 in the other semifinal game on Friday.
In a physical first period, the lone goal would come from Utah as Kurtis Kunz fired a shot through traffic on the power play to give Utah a 1-0 lead after the first period. The Utes would take control of the game in the second as Julian Cronan and Shaymus Bertagnolli would score twice each in the second period to give the Utes a comfortable 5-1 lead going into the third period.
Dean Wilson would score another insurance goal halfway through the third period to make it 6-1 and the Utes would cruise to victory in the Wasatch Cup final, winning by a score of 6-2 in the game.
Unlike Friday’s semi-final game, the Utes controlled the pace of play throughout the game outshooting the Aggies 43-32 in the game. The Utes won the title for the second straight year, going two-for-two in the annual event that puts the four in-state teams against each other with bragging rights on the line.
With the official tie on Friday and the win on Saturday, the Utes now sit at 23-2-3 on the season and look primed to lock up an automatic bid to Nationals with just two weeks left in the season.
The Utes will look for another trophy next weekend as the team heads to South Lake Tahoe, CA for the 2016 PAC 8 Championship Tournament. The Utes are the second seed at the tournament and will play the highest remaining seed in the semifinals on Saturday.