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Photos Courtesy of UVU Marketing
“It will come once we start gelling. We’ve only had six practices—this is only our second game,” said UVU men’s hockey head coach Darin Peck.
UVU’s men’s hockey team has had their fair share of ups and downs. After the program was re-established in 2017, the hockey team has gone through multiple coaching and roster changes. Peck heads the coaching effort in 2018 and has an optimistic view for the club.
“We’ve added a lot of young guys this year—young guys who have a lot of talent,” Peck said. “It has taken some time, but we are heading in the right direction. We should be able to compete with teams like Utah State very soon.”
Youth is a key factor for the Wolverines. Playing Utah State on Sept. 22, freshman Devin Bain had a large responsibility defending the goal against the highly ranked Aggie squad. UVU gave up a drastic 65 shots on goal and Bain only allowed six to sneak by him. Bain’s defensive effort was easy to spot on the ice, as he was continually blocking and snatching USU shots left and right.
“I just tried to stay calm mostly,” Bain said. “There’s a lot of work that needs to be done. 65 shots is a lot of shots, but in the end the main goal is to win the game—it doesn’t matter how many shots end up coming towards me.”
Freshman Brayden Mannek emerged not only as a key defender for his team, but as an offensive asset as well. Down 2-0 with two minutes left in the period, Mannek came to the rescue by sending one to the back of the net. Mannek also seemed to take the role of the enforcer out on the ice for UVU, keeping USU players in line and getting involved in a few scuffles during the game.
“It felt good to be able to get that first goal up on the board, it definitely got the boys going a little bit. What we’ve brought forward these two games is exciting, I think we are moving in the right direction,” Mannek said.
Although UVU’s hockey program will have their fair share of growing pains, there is a lovable optimism within the team. Cheers of encouragement and congratulation could be heard from the locker room after the game, and players were met with water bottle sprays from teammates during post-game interviews.
“We come from being one of the last placed teams from the last few years, to then play some of the top two teams in the nation these last two games,” Peck said. “You know you’re not going to flip a switch over night and become number one. We just need to keep pushing and keep the momentum going.”