Chris Cutshall scored a hat trick as the Utah State hockey team overwhelmed Grand Canyon University 8-2 Saturday night.
The hat trick was the first of the season for Cutshall, though not the first of the second-year Aggie’s career. But he was quick to deflect praise.
“To be honest, you cannot just put it on just one person,” Cutshall said. “Anyone on the ice at any time is willing to be a team player before themselves, so when it comes down to one person getting three goals it’s not just him it’s the whole team.”
Teamwork has been a major emphasis from USU head coach Jon Eccles, who has said in the past that his team needs to play as a group and not as individuals. Against GCU, Eccles said that overall, he was “pleased with their effort,” but that they were almost too unselfish
“We almost overpassed a few times, we should’ve taken more shots, but we made an extra pass and it was kind of like an odd pass.” Eccles said. “I can’t fault the guys for that because they are really trying to work together.”
The Antelopes came into the game on a three-game win streak, including wins over BYU and Weber State on Thursday and Friday.
The first of Cutshall’s three goals opened the scoring, with him crossing the face of the goal and burying a backhanded shot into the top shelf of the goal a minute and a half into the game. Less than two minutes later, Frank Flight put home a goal from nearly the same spot on a two-on-one fastbreak.
The Aggies showed off their versatility on offense, scoring goals at full strength, on a power play and while shorthanded.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s four on four, five on five, five on four whatever it is,” Cutshall said. “We’ll definitely put all we’ve got out there.”
According to Eccles, the early lead was great for setting the tone, but he wanted the team to not relax and let the GCU come back, the way the Aggies allowed MSU-Denver to come back from a two-goal deficit and win on Oct. 6.
“We just preached to the boys ‘you gotta stay strong, you gotta stay intense,’” Eccles said. “We’re an aggressive team on our forecheck and when we do that good things happen.”
Utah State did slow down a bit, not scoring the rest of the first quarter, but back-to-back three-goal periods sealed the deal, with just a couple of defensive hiccups allowing GCU to score two goals.
“It was a great game. We probably played a full 55 minutes,” Eccles said. “Had a couple little letdown, but we regained our composure and we kept the pressure up I was really happy with the boys how they played.”