Special to the Wave
With only two games left in the season, the Wasatch Back JV Hockey team remains the top JV team in the state, still undefeated with a record of 11-0. Despite limited practice over the Christmas break, the team ready to tackle two games right after the start of the new year. On Wednesday, January 3rd, Wasatch faced off against the Salt Lake Stars and won 10-4. Sophomore Hunter Warner put the first goal on the net, with assists by Wasatch High School junior Aiden Oram and senior Juha Nieminen. Within the next few minutes, South Summit junior Noel Chavez added two more goals (assisted by Warner and Nieminen). The Stars wouldn’t let the period end in a shutout and they finally put a score up, but Wasatch answered back quickly when freshman Saatvik Bhargave scored on a power play (assisted by Chavez), finishing the period with Wasatch up 4-1. The Stars came out strong in the second period, scoring within the first 90 seconds. Wasatch answered with three goals in less than five minutes. Juha Nieminen scored twice (assisted by Bhargave both times) and Wasatch senior Max Davidson put one in (assisted by Wasatch senior Jack Jarvis and Sophomore Zachary Burnham) before the Stars could score again. Jack Jarvis kept the pressure on the Stars goalie and scored twice in less than 60 seconds (assisted by Bhargave and Davidson) and Wasatch ended the second period up 9-3. The third period was quiet in comparison, with one goal scored by each team. Wasatch sophomore Isaac Shuflin put his first goal of the game in the net with assists by Burnham and Oram. Wasatch skated away with the victory, 10-4.
The team only had a few days to get ready for their next game against the Park City JV team on Saturday Jan 6th. Park City is in a three-way tie for third place in the state standings; Wasatch knew it would be a tougher game for them, especially after the varsity team lost to Park City at the end of November. Plus, it didn’t help that Wasatch was only able to put up eight skaters verses 15 skaters for Park City, so there was going to be little rest in-between shifts. The first period seemed evenly matched with no scoring, until Park City put one in with 50 seconds left. Wasatch tied it up almost halfway thru the second after Juha Nieminen sent a puck past the goalie with the assist by Aiden Oram on a short-handed penalty kill shift, but Park City went ahead by a goal just 30 seconds later. It only took a few more minutes until Wasatch tied it up again when Jack Jarvis scored with the assist by Noel Chavez. Then Nieminen scored the go-ahead goal with 90 seconds left in the second and Wasatch took the lead 3-2 at the close of the second. The lack of reserve skaters started to take a toll on the Wasatch bench at the start of the third period and Park City tied it back up at 3-3. Wasatch rallied though and went ahead with only 5 minutes left when Nieminen scored his 3rd goal of the night, earning another hat trick and securing the 4-3 victory. The JV team is now 12-0 for the season with two games left. Coach Oram and Coach Morrow were very proud of the team’s accomplishment that night. Not only did they win the game short-handed, it was also Wasatch’s first win over a Park City team.
The Varsity team struggled before the Christmas break, losing two games in a row. On December 13th, Wasatch played the top team in the state, the undefeated Viewmont. Viewmont has a strong history of top Utah hockey teams and have been either #1 or #2 the last several years. Wasatch knew it would be a tough game and Viewmont didn’t disappoint. Wasatch was shut-out, losing 10-0. Wasatch Goalie Whit Allgood made 30 saves out of 40 shots on goal. Offense was a struggle, with the Wasatch front line only producing 15 shots on the Viewmont net. The team didn’t have much time to regroup and faced another top team a few days later. Wasatch played UCI-North on December 18th, who was ahead of Wasatch in the standings. Wasatch was only able to field seven skaters (to UCI’s 13 skaters), which made a tough game even harder. With five skaters on the ice at any one time, each of the Wasatch players was going to have to dig deep and be ready to play any position. South Summit junior Noel Chavez scored first, with assists by Hunter Warner and Wasatch junior Nathan Morrow. UCI answered back 50 seconds later one goal, then followed it up with a second to close out the first ahead 2-1. Even with only seven skaters, Wasatch keep up the pressure throughout the second period. The teams seemed evenly matched and no one scored. Early in the 3rd period, Juha Nieminen found the net and tied up the game at two goals apiece with an assist by Noel Chavez. Both teams fought hard for the puck and kept up a grueling pace through the third period. The game looked like it would end in a tie, but UCI broke thru the Wasatch defense and scored with only two minutes left in the game. Wasatch lost 3-2. Goalie Whit Allgood proved invaluable again, letting in only three goals with UCI peppering him with 31 shots on net. Coach Anderson was proud of how the team played with only a short roster against a team like UCI-North.
Come out and cheers on the Wasatch Back hockey teams as they finish up the regular season. All the remaining games for both JV and Varsity are at the Park City Ice Rink. The JV team has two games left and they are hoping to finish the season undefeated. They play Oquirrh on Saturday January 27th at 6:45pm and Riverton on Saturday February 3rd at 8:15pm. The varsity team has one more game left in the regular season, they play Brighton on Wednesday January 17th at 6:30 pm. The team is currently in a tie for 5th in the overall state standings and in 3rd place in the Independent Div 1 league leading into the playoffs in February. Go WASATCH BACK!