Utah was checked, hard, back into reality after surrendering two hat tricks and three shorthanded goals when the Utes lost to Utah State at the Eccles Ice Arena, 10-2, Friday Night. Previous to its trip to Logan, Utah was 5-2 on the season, having squeaked by the likes of Cal State Fullerton, Mesa State University and Boise State University by a combined margin of nine goals over seven games. By comparison, the Aggies played one game against Boise State last weekend. In that one game alone, USU topped the Utes’ margin of victory, outscoring Boise 11-1. Last year, when USU played Utah, the Ags gored the Utes by more than 15 goals per outing, regardless of the venue. The previous matchup between the two schools left Utah gasping for breath after a 20-1 pounding in North Logan. USU was the heavy pregame favorite, and the Aggies certainly did not disappoint. With less than five minutes gone in the first period, USU’s assistant captain Billy Gouthro had two goals on the board for the Ags. The first of those came at the 17:59 mark. Gouthro and his team set up their powerplay in Utah’s zone. They swung the puck left, right, back and forth looking for a weakness. Matt Hamilton took a pass from behind the Ute goal and swung it laterally to a cutting Gouthro. He shot and scored. Precisely 1:54 later, with USU still maintaining Utah in the forecheck, captain David Wyman advanced on the goal from the left side. He moved behind the goal, looking for an opportunity, and dished it to Gouthro. Gouthro controlled the puck behind his goal, moved out, saw an opportunity on the slim side of the goal and took it. Shorthanded situations have proven to be quite fruitful for USU as of late. The Aggies have scored multiple shorthanded goals in each of the last three games they have played, and Friday’s in-state showdown was no exception. As USU took on the penalty kill, Jeremy Martin found himself with possession far behind his own blue line. He sent it up the boards to Gouthro, who outskated one defender, and passed the puck to a streaking Wyman. Utah’s goaltender never saw it coming. The pass connected, Wyman went left and the Utah goaltender went right. A fourth goal scored just previous to Wyman’s made the score 4-0 after the first period. Gouthro said the shorthanded goal was instrumental in dismantling the Utes. “It took the wind from their sails right from the get-go,” Gouthro said. “We’ve got a lot of speed on our team, and we use it on the penalty kill with Wyman, myself, Brendan MacDonald and (Tyler) Mistelbacher. We use it well, and when we’re going, we’re going. We get good at penalty killing, so against these weaker teams we’re able to pop a couple.” Head coach Jon Eccles and Gouthro were pleased with the Aggies’ dominating performance in the first period. “We came out alive in the first period,” Eccles said. “We had a lot of excitement, enthusiasm, and it showed by how well we played.” “It’s a team effort,” Gouthro said. “We were definitely working our systems and coming along. You could see it in our game play. It’s progress.”
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