Utah State played two in-state opponents over the weekend, Weber State and UVU, defeating both in front of a home crowd.
The Aggies first played Weber State on Friday. The game took place nearly one week after the Wildcats downed USU in Ogden 4-2, but the Aggies took care of business at winning 4-3, claiming their second home victory of the season.
The Aggies jumped out to an early lead with two goals in the first three minutes, but the Wildcats refused to back down. They fought back, holding Utah State scoreless for the better part of the next 35 minutes while adding a goal of their own to draw within one. Utah State responded, however, with another two-goal burst late in the second period, opening up a three-goal lead they took into the third period.
Momentum was key for Utah State which allowed them to build a 4-1 lead.
“For any team, momentum is your engine,” said Aggie forward Chris Cutshall. “The first two goals that we popped were really important; it set the tone.”
The third period got ugly when Utah State took unnecessary penalties and allowed Weber State back into the game by giving up two goals to make it 4-3. USU nearly handed the game away late by letting the Wildcats get a 5-3 man advantage with under a minute left. The defense held on, though, and the Aggies came away with a win.
Despite the victory, head coach Jon Eccles wasn’t pleased with his team’s efforts.
“Way too many penalties,” he said. “We had [twelve] penalties that we ended up having to kill off. And that takes all of our momentum away from us. We’ve got guys being selfish, doing stupid things. That score should’ve been 7-1.”
Coach Eccles said he and assistant coach Joe Pfleegor would switch up the lineups to help get things rolling for the Aggies.
That’s exactly what happened for Utah State’s next game against Utah Valley University, which took place the next day. Though they were missing a few players to injury, the Aggies won easily 7-0.
After one period, Utah State had only one goal despite outplaying UVU for most of the period. But halfway through the second period, the Aggies went on a scoring spree exploiting the Wolverine’s defense to get four goals in the period. Frank Flight, who had USU’s first goal, tacked on two more in the second to complete a hat-trick, the first of his collegiate career.
Though Flight was fresh off a landmark achievement, he was more focused on what this win meant for the team.
“We needed this win,” Flight said, “and the goals just kept coming. My line helped out a lot they were really battling in the corners and they fed me a couple of times, so they really made it easy for me.”
Flight’s hat trick wasn’t the only first that happened for the Aggies against UVU. Goalkeeper Christian Vivian recorded his the first shutout of his college career, and he thanked his defense for that.
“[The] boys made it easy on me,” Vivian said. “My [defense] was keeping them wide and I was just reading shots.”
Coach Eccles was much more pleased with his team after the UVU game.
“They did everything we asked them to,” he said. “They played a full 60 minutes.”
Moving forward Eccles hopes to see his team learn from the mistakes a build on the things they did right over the weekend. Utah State has some challenges ahead, including a stretch of four games in four days from Nov. 17-20 — a stretch that will test the endurance of the Aggies.
The Aggies will face off at home next against Texas A&M on Friday at the George S. Eccles Ice Center.