USU skaters look to secure No. 1 rank, auto-bid to nationals
Published: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Updated: Thursday, January 24, 2013 14:01
The Utah State hockey team travels to San Jose, Calif., this weekend to compete in the San Jose Showcase against UNLV, San Diego State, San Jose State and Texas A&M University.
Utah State has already competed against and beaten three of the teams in the tournament. The Aggies beat UNLV 8-0 and San Jose State 6-2 during USU’s Beehive Showcase in November. The Aggies then beat SDSU 7-3 earlier this month.
This time, however, it is the Aggies traveling the long distance to take part in a tournament.
“It shouldn’t be hard to get back into it,” said senior captain Brian Gibbons. “A lot of the guys like traveling, like being on the road. I think because the stakes are high too, we get four wins, we’ll be No. 1 again and be close to an auto-bid in St. Louis and Nationals.”
Not only do the Aggies have to travel, they have to play four games in four nights instead of the usual two or three games in a weekend.
“The toughest part about playing four games in four days has to be bringing the intensity that we bring for that long with that little of time to recuperate,” said forward Chris Videto.
Utah State’s game plan involves throwing plenty of body checks to wear opponents down, so the length of the tournament may cause problems.
“It’ll be tough to keep it up,” Gibbons said. “But we normally use our physical play on Olympic ice, and coming down to sea level and NHL-sized ice will be to our advantage.”
Utah State has earned the number one spot in the West Regional of the American Collegiate Hockey Association’s rankings, and this tournament features two more top ten teams in San Jose State and San Diego State, coming in seventh and tenth respectively. Texas A&M is ranked 12th with UNLV coming in 15th.
“The team I’m looking forward to playing has to be San Jose because we’re playing them in their barn and they put up a good fight last time,” Videto said. “I want to have another good matchup with them.”
The Aggies hope to leave California unscathed with their number one ranking intact. They return home on Feb. 1 to take on Weber State at the George S. Eccles Ice Center in North Logan.
“We know if we show up to play, there’s a good chance we’ll come out on top,” Gibbons said.