“Our season is over,” UVU head coach Tony Furness said. “That’s where we stand, and that’s the long and the short of it.”
UVU was scheduled to play USU in Logan, but due to a goaltender problem, the entire UVU hockey club has folded. The sudden cancellation of the UVU season left the Aggie hockey club in a bind. Jon Eccles, the USU head coach, said the scheduling fiasco in Orem is frustrating, especially because UVU gave virtually no warning that such a thing could happen.
“If they knew this was a problem,” Eccles said of the Wolverines, “then why did they wait until Monday to tell us?”
The abortion of the UVU hockey season comes as a direct result of the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) disqualification of the team’s only goaltender, Travis Pierce. Furness said without a backup to replace Pierce, the ability of the team to continue to play was completely undone. He said no viable alternative on the team could be found, regardless of position.
“There’s nobody with that level of experience,” Furness said. “There’s a safety issue here. With the level of hockey that people play around here, playing someone with no goal experience would put any player in an injury-prone position, which we can’t have.”
“I agree,” Eccles said of Furness’ comments. “But why do they have one goalie? I wouldn’t want to take one of the players and say, ‘Hey, can you play goalie for us?’ Although we have dressed players that have played goalie before as a backup, just in case. But again, why do you only have one goalie?”
Furness said all attempts to recruit a goalie, were totally unsuccessful. He also said one of his athletes offered to take the position.
“One kid showed interest,” Furness said, “but it was in response to the situation. I applaud him for doing that, but it wasn’t the right thing to do. There’s really no way you can put an inexperienced player in that position.”
The cancellation of the Wolverines season does little to nothing to impact the Western Region of ACHA play. UVU was 1-15 before aborting its season and was riding high on an 11-game losing skid. UVU’s last victory came against the Boise State University Broncos, Oct. 17, by a score of 5-1.
After UVU fell through, Eccles and his players approached BYU to take the vacancy on the schedule. Eccles said BYU declined because of financial difficulties. Eccles said he then offered to pay for the bus ride from Provo to Logan and to find a sponsor to take care of any other financial issue, but BYU, again, balked.
“They called back,” Eccles said, “and said, ‘We really can’t. There are some other issues.’ Well, come to find out, their starting goalie might have a concussion, but they have a backup goalie. They still did not want to come up and play us.”
Eccles said USU then looked to other programs throughout the state and region within a reasonable distance. Every other ACHA team already had games prescheduled for this weekend. USU, as a last resort, then turned to the local semipro team, the Cache Valley Trappers, to fill the hole in the schedule. The Trappers have been in existence since 2008 and feature several former Aggie hockey players.
The puck will drop at 7 p.m. at the Eccles Ice Center Saturday.