Hockey skates to two wins
Published: Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 15:01
Utah State hockey returned to action last Friday and Saturday night at the George S. Eccles Ice Center in North Logan against the Cal State Long Beach 49ers and the San Diego State Aztecs. The Aggies swept the home stand.
Utah State 8, Cal State Long Beach 1
In the first game against Cal State Long Beach, the Aggies got off to a slow start and the 49ers jumped out to a lead 10 minutes into the game by scoring a power play goal.
“We took a bunch of penalties that we shouldn’t have and they capitalized on it,” said head coach Jon Eccles.
However, SDSU would give up the lead a minute and a half later when defenseman Shaun Gibbons scored for USU.
“Our offense started out pretty slow here, but we picked it up about halfway through the first period and started putting goals in,” Shaun Gibbons said.
The slow start can be attributed to the almost three weeks off the ice and six weeks in between games due to winter break. However, getting the team ready wasn’t much of a challenge, as they were anxious to get back on the ice.
“We had two great practices on Monday and Tuesday,” Eccles said. “Wednesday was a good practice, but it wasn’t just quite as flowing. Guys were just itching to get out there and play.”
After USU scored their first goal they never looked back, scoring four goals in the first period. Aggie captain Brian Gibbons used his speed to skate past a Long Beach defender and gave himself a mini-breakaway for the Aggies’ second goal. Shaun Gibbons then scored on the end of a beautiful passing play for his second goal of the night. To end the first period, forward Cooper Limb rocketed a slap shot past the Long Beach goalie with 19 seconds left in the period.
The second period was a different story. The Aggies came out and had the better play for the entire period but couldn’t slip a puck past the 49ers’ goalie.
“I felt the second period we were a little flat,” Eccles said. “We dominated, but we just didn’t do the things we had to do to put the puck in the net.”
For a team that plays well during a stretch of the game but can’t score, it’s easy to get frustrated. The Aggies, on the other hand, built on their second period to come out strong in the third.
“The opportunities are there, and they don’t always present themselves like that,” Eccles said. “Guys were missing some opportunities, but I really think that they built on it, and didn’t stop attacking and the puck started going in in the third period.”
The Aggies scored four more goals in the third period. Limb scored on a two-on-one rush, and defenseman Sean Erwin notched a goal to extend the lead to 6-1. Forwards Dee Fontaine and Dagen Walton put the final touches on the night for the Aggies.
Utah State goalie Bryce Scherschel made 24 saves in net, nearly posting the shutout.
The Aggies were pleased with their first game back.
“Coming back after three weeks of not being on the ice, we did pretty good as a team,” Shaun Gibbons said.
Utah State 7, San Diego State 3
On Saturday night, the Aggies faced a team they didn’t know they were going to play at the start of the year. This game was scheduled about a month ago after Cal State Fullerton canceled their game scheduled for Jan. 18.
“I think our physical play really took a toll on them,” Brian Gibbons said. “It was their third game of the weekend, it was our second and they’re coming up to our elevation.”
In the second period, Brian Gibbons scored his second goal, and then a few minutes later completed the hat trick in crowd-pleasing fashion.
While working a five-on-three penalty kill, Gibbons cleared the puck from his defensive zone all the way down to the other end of the rink and backhanded the puck into the goal to complete the thrilling play.
“Brian just didn’t give up on the puck,” Eccles said. “We talked about it, not giving up and winning the fifty-fifty battles. That was all pure effort on Brian’s part. He was the one that shot it down out of the zone. He chased it down and ended up scoring.”