The Weber State University hockey team got three wins over the weekend, including a win over the University of Colorado, a Division I opponent. The Wildcats overcame a 3-0 deficit to defeat CU.
“Our team has been resilient all year,” said WSU assistant coach Yosh Ryujin. “We have fallen behind; even in the last game against Utah State, we fell down 2-0 and we came back.”
The Wildcats controlled the puck early on as both teams flew all around the ice. But it was the Buffaloes who were the first to strike. On a power play, CU circled the goals until freshman David Coleman found junior Luc Neitenbach in an open space in front of the goal.
The Buffaloes nearly took their lead to two with eight minutes to go when a quick outlet pass caught the WSU goalie out of position. But freshman Jake Webber slid in and kept the puck from hitting the net. The Buffaloes scored on their next possession, however.
The Buffaloes blew the game open with five minutes left in the first period, taking a 3-0 lead off of a goal from freshman Mick Bruce on a WSU power play.
The Wildcats got on the board with just more than a minute left in the period. Sophomore Jeremiah Holmes found the net off of an assist from senior Braxton Green. That brought the Wildcats within two goals at the end of the first period.
“If you ask any player on the team, I don’t have the best shot,” Holmes said. “I probably have the weakest shot on the team. When I shoot, I look for the screen so I know 100 percent that it will go in. I had a guy screen, and I shot it the opposite way he was going and it went in.”
Ryujin emphasized the importance of getting a goal before the first intermission.
“’Miah getting that goal at the end of the first period was huge for us,” he said. “The way we look at it, if you can get that first goal, it will get us off the deck and give us momentum from there. Any time you can get a goal in the last one or two minutes left in the period, you build up that momentum and you take it away from them.”
The Wildcats continued where they left off, cutting the lead to just 3-2 six minutes into the second period. On a power play, the Wildcats fired shot after shot at the net, and finally Holmes found the net off of a nicely placed pass from senior Curtis Snowball.
The Wildcats tied the game at 3-3 with eight minutes left in the period. On another power play, WSU junior Phill Jennrich brought the puck down the ice and raced past a defender before finding senior Josh Giudice with a wide-open shot, and he buried it.
The Buffaloes had a golden opportunity late in the period, as the Wildcats committed three penalties in less than two minutes, giving CU more than two minutes of 5-on-3 hockey, but the Wildcats denied the Buffalo push and kept the score tied at 3-3 going into the third period.
WSU goalie Lucas Thatcher said he had to refocus after giving up three goals in the first period, and that helped him the rest of the game.
“I just rethought everything,” he said. “I flushed everything out of my head. I came out (of the break) and I wanted to step it up and try to win the mental game. After the second period, they didn’t have any goals. In the third I was already into it. We got some goals and we got ahead a little bit.”
Holmes was injured in the final seconds of the second period, causing a CU ejection. Holmes laid on the ice for more than two minutes before getting up and skating off under his own power. He started after the second intermission. That penalty gave the Wildcats a five-minute advantage to start the period.
The Wildcats didn’t waste the opportunity, scoring the go-ahead goal a minute into the period. Green hit Webber 20 feet from the goal, and he rifled it right in. The Wildcats widened their lead on the next possession as sophomore Dax Hobbs upped the WSU lead to 5-3.
The Buffaloes climbed back to within one with seven minutes to go on their own power play. But that was all CU could muster, and the Wildcats got their fifth-straight win. The Wildcats also defeated Denver University twice over the weekend, 5-2 and 5-1.
The Wildcats will now head out on the road for a three-game road trip in Montana.