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Coming off of its first win over Utah State University in Logan in more than five years on Friday, the Weber State University hockey team knocked off the Aggies once again on Saturday by the score of 5-2. The win cemented the Wildcats in second place in the Western Region.
“The game was just fun,” said WSU junior Phill Jennrich. “We finally came together. We’ve always had rivalries with Utah State and they’ve usually come out on top, but not this year. This has been our season.”
Both teams were extremely physical to start off the game, the boards rattling all over the ice.
The Aggies were the first team to score this time around, as junior Cooper Limb sneaked a shot past Wildcat goalie Colby Atkinson on a pass from Rylee Orr.
The Aggies scored again just two minutes later as freshman Derrek Shupe stole a Wildcat pass and quickly fired it into the net. That gave USU a 2-0 lead with 11 minutes left in the first period.
The Wildcats had a chance to cut the lead to just one with six minutes left in the period. Senior Braxton Green had the puck behind the net and a WSU player deflected it right in front of the net, but Aggie goalie Austin Willenborg made two quick saves and covered the puck.
The Wildcats continued the pressure but to no avail. The Aggies took a 2-0 lead into the first break.
The Aggies dominated the time of possession through the majority of the period, and it was all the Wildcat goaltender could do to keep it out of the net.
The Wildcats had a golden opportunity midway through the period, facing a 5-3 advantage, but they were unable to capitalize both on the two-man and one-man advantages.
The Wildcats finally got on the board with three minutes left in the period. Sophomore Dax Hobbs raced after a puck that fellow sophomore Jeremiah Holmes dropped in front of the defense. Hobbs juked the goalkeeper right and then switched the puck to the left side and fired it into the net.
The goal was hailed with a giant shout and the hurling of teddy bears onto the ice in celebration. The teddy bears will be donated to McKay-Dee Hospital.
The goal revitalized the Wildcats, as they seemed to skate quicker and with more aggression.
“That was a big weight off of the chest,” Hobbs said. “We were battling back and getting a ton of shots. The puck just wouldn’t fall for us. We thought the goalie was looking a little shaky, so we knew when we came up with that first one that it would get the ball rolling for us.”
Two minutes later the Wildcats were again on a power-play advantage, and this time they capitalized. The Wildcats were circling the net with the puck until Hobbs found an opening and flung a pass right to Green, who buried the puck, tying the game at 2-2, which is where the period ended.
“Not by any means did I think the game was over, and neither did the boys,” said WSU head coach Joe Pfleegor. “They woke up. I think in that last 10 minutes of the period we outshot them 14-2. You just knew. We just had to get that first goal, that was key. Once we got that first goal, the floodgates just opened. It wasn’t long after that we got that second goal.”
The Wildcats continued their push to start the third period, and they were rewarded with their first lead of the game. The Wildcats were distributing the puck in the Aggie zone until sophomore Kris Yelderman hit Jennrich at the top of the faceoff circle and Jennrich rifled the puck toward the goalkeeper and it sneaked into the net. That brought the score to 3-2.
The Wildcats continued to build upon their lead with eight minutes to go in the game. Hobbs once again found the net as he outhustled the defense off of a stolen pass.
A minute later, Hobbs caught the Aggies asleep on their own power play, stole another pass and was off to the races. He scored again to complete the hat trick, giving the Wildcats a 5-2 win.
The Wildcats will return to the ice Thursday to face the University of Denver at the Weber County Ice Sheet. The puck will drop at 7:30 p.m.