Aggies take care of business in Big Mountain Classic

Nov. 19, 2017 Hockey vs NAU_Megan.Nielsen-37

USU head coach Jon Eccles was content with the hockey team’s performance in the Big Mountain Classic over the MLK weekend. The ACHA computer rankings not-so-respectfully disagreed.

After holding the No. 2 ranking since the middle of November, the Aggies dropped to No. 3 in the West (and to No. 32 nationally after being at No. 17), surrendering their spot to Northern Colorado, who went 2-2 at the same Classic. The Bears’ weekend was highlighted by a 5-1 win over No. 1 Northern Arizona.

USU hockey needed a good showing at the Big Mountain Classic to maintain their position in the top two of the West region and possibly give them a shot at the number one spot. A 2-1-1 outing, which included a loss to No. 12 University of Colorado and a tie to the No. 19 Dakota College, did not give them what they needed.

When it came to playing teams already high in the rankings, the Aggies took care of business. In their opening game Friday, they defeated Northern Colorado 4-3 on the Bears’ home ice. And against No. 7 MSU-Denver, they came away with a convincing 8-5 win. But the loss and tie put a blight on those two impressive road wins.

Eccles said the loss and tie weren’t as bad as the computer rankings indicate.

“They’re a solid team, just like {No. 4] Williston,” Eccles said of Dakota College. “I really think they’re probably a top four or five team. You can’t go by what they’re ranked at because I don’t think that’s a true representation.”

Eccles also had some praise for CU after they beat USU Saturday.

“They just got us back on our heels,” Eccles said. “Kind of what we try to do to teams and what we did to UNC and they just caught us at a good time for them.”

According to Eccles Colorado was in a similar position to Dakota with their ranking, having a slow start that put them behind the eight-ball. Both teams climbed up the latest West rankings with Dakota College jumping 10 spots to No. 8, while CU rose one spot to No. 11.

Overall, Eccles said “it was a good weekend” but that “you can always ask for better.” But with the postseason approaching and a top-2 ranking so critical to success there, the Aggies will need more than “good” weekends.