For two years the hockey team struggled to make a mark. That struggle seems to be over.
With 205 goals this season, second most in Division II, the team can score.
An impressive stat; but coupled with a staunch defense that has allowed 91 goals in the season thus far, even the most illiterate of the hockey world can see the rise of the Wolverine hockey team.
If you need more than that, try eight games this season with a winning margin of 10 or more, including a 25-2 win against BYU-Idaho earlier in the year.
Granted, it isn’t facing teams competing for the Stanley Cup, but one cannot help but notice the level of talent among the team.
Playing in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA), Utah Valley started the season ranked No. 2 in the Western Division and lived up to that expectation.
Winning (or tying) the first 14 games, and suffering only respectable losses at the sticks of University of Denver, University of Colorado, and Eastern Washington, the first half of the hockey season found the Wolverines at 19-6-3 including 11-3-1 at home at the Seven Peaks Arena.
Then something no one could have prepared for happened. Tragedy struck, and rocked the Wolverine locker room, with the death of assistant coach Ken Dolezsar.
"We still miss him. I miss him," coach Matthew Beaudry said. "Not only missing his energy as a hockey coach, but as a person, so genuine, so sincere. His attitude caused others to try and work harder and be better. So you remove that and that’s huge loss, but we still play hard for him."
The Wolverine team has fought hard to honor their late coach.
Utah Valley currently shares the lead with Colorado in the conference with 41 points ahead of other storied athletic programs like BYU, USC, UCLA and University of Utah, and enjoys a seventh-place ranking overall.
The team is a few spots down from their pre-season ranking of No. 2, thanks to mid season losses to under-matched teams like Weber State and UNLV, but Coach Beaudry and his team remain focused.
"You know it’s better that we lose these games midseason – games we should have won but we didn’t, due to underestimating teams or not preparing fully for games. I would rather lose these now and fix the problems, and be better prepared for the post-season play," Beaudry said.
The potent Wolverine team is led by David Wyman, who is enjoying a 34-goal and 60-assist season, and Chris Glen, with 26 goals and 45 assists – scorers leading not only their team, but who enjoy spots among the top-five point-leaders in the ACHA.
The Wolverines’ next big game is Jan. 31, next week, at Park City Ice Arena against Colorado State University.
Colorado State is looking to avenge the 3-2 loss suffered at the hands of the Wolverines in Colorado last November.