No. 1 USU headed for national tournament
Utah State’s club hockey team had three games this weekend to leave a final impression on the American Collegiate Hockey Association ranking voters. After winning two out of the three games, USU stayed atop of the rankings to earn an automatic bid to the national tournament.
Utah State 5, Colorado State 0
Aggie goaltender Bryce Scherschel made 32 saves to earn the shutout while forwards Chris Videto and Cooper Limb each scored twice to beat the Rams on Thursday.
“It’s a goalie stat, but at the same time it’s a team effort that goes into it,” Scherschel said. “Like you saw in the second period, Ty Johns did a great job of blocking two shots that might have gone in if it weren’t for him getting in the way.”
Scherschel managed to keep the shutout even though the Aggies took nine penalties, giving the Rams plenty of chances to put the puck in the back of the net. In the end, the USU penalty kill prevailed.
This was Utah State’s third game against the No. 3-ranked Rams, and it was also its most dominating performance.
“That was impressive,” said head coach Jon Eccles. “We knew what was riding on the line. It was a must-win game and to come out and win 5-0 was just — the boys played their hearts out.”
Forward Stu Hepburn opened the scoring for the Aggies less than eight minutes into the first period and Videto scored three minutes later to give USU a 2-0 edge heading into the second period.
Videto scored again less than three minutes into the second period before Limb scored the final two goals for the Aggies, one with four minutes left in the second and the other four and a half minutes into the third.
Colorado University 3, Utah State 1
In a very closely contested game, the Aggies lost on a late goal in the third period on Friday.
The Aggies and Buffaloes traded chances early. However, neither team wanted to be the first to make a mistake and allow the first goal.
Then Utah State started taking penalties — nine in the last two periods.
“It is so sad that we, as a team, implode like this,” Eccles said. “I’m very frustrated with the amount of penalties we took.”
Even though the Aggies were down a man four times for a total of eight minutes in the second period, USU managed to score the lone goal of the middle frame. Forward Dee Fontaine’s shot slipped past the CU goalie and was helped into the net by a Buffalo defender trying to sweep the puck away from the net.
Utah State gave up three unanswered goals in the third period including two in the final four minutes. As the game ended, Hepburn tried to start a fight with a Buffalo player, but was pulled away by the refs.
“What happened at the end of the game there with one of our players, I am very embarrassed by what went on there,” Eccles said.
Hepburn earned a disqualification for the next game.
Utah State 6, Colorado State 3
Utah State came back on Saturday and showed why it should remain the No. 1 seed in the West by defeating Colorado State for the second time in three nights by a score of 6-3.
“It’s right before the rankings and we’re heading to nationals, so it was a huge game,” said forward Devin Holmes.
A loss might have pushed them out of the top two spots, which earn automatic bids to nationals and bypassing the regional tournament.
Matt Hamilton put the Aggies on the board with 11:16 left to play in the first period, deflecting a Ty Johns shot on the power play.
The two teams traded goals in the second period with freshman forward Ian Beckstrom notching USU’s goal.
Six total goals were scored in the third period and the Aggies scored four of them. Gary Higgs scored less than two minutes into the third period and Limb scored less than three minutes later to extend the lead to 4-1 for the Aggies.
The Rams got one back by scoring on a power play, but Videto answered by firing a slapshot past the goalie in transition. With less than a minute left, CSU scored to make the score 5-3 and then pulled their goalie, allowing Holmes to score the empty net goal.12
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