Senior Night for BYU Hockey didn't end with the score in the Cougars favor, but just like the season, the final score didn't tell the entire story. The night started out with the program honoring the three seniors on the team as they brought them out on the ice, with their families, and presented them with a thank you gift. Coach Gantt presented the players their BYU Wall Clock, but you could tell that no gift could thank the players enough for their contributions to the up and coming program. The program is in a better place now than it was when the seniors arrived in Provo and they now leave a program that has a bright future in the years ahead.
The game was close in the first period as Montana Tech scored a single goal, but the second period turned out to be the Cougars downfall. Three goals within minutes of each other gave Montana Tech a 4-0 lead, and a very difficult challenge for BYU. The final period would be much kinder to the Cougars as two goals within just a few minutes brought the Cougars right back into the game. Even with the momentum swing in the Cougars favor, Montana Tech would hold on for the win in the face of a determined and ferocious BYU team.
The Cougars played the entire season with the same determination and fight that they showed in the final period, and their fans showed their appreciation in return. Early in the season the crowd was loud, but sparse. By the time the game ended on Saturday, the crowd was a virtual roar that could be heard all over the Peaks Arena, and seats were much harder to find. The crowd stayed until the end, cheered the Cougars all the way off the ice, and appreciated the work that each player demonstrated on the ice.
The Cougars made tremendous strides this year as they positioned the program for future success. Based on stats and results alone, the Cougars were a much better team. In a couple less games the Cougars doubled their win total and cut down their goals allowed by about 30%. When the Cougars were on the road, they cut their allowed goals by almost half. All signs of dramatic improvement. However, some improvements will not show in the box score. Some are based on who they beat, and how they won. Twice this year the Cougars beat ranked teams. One of these games was won in overtime. The team didn't quit and played until the final horn in each and every game. Their hard work and determination was recognized by more than just their fans as the ACHA gave the Cougars their first ranking since the BYU name was taken by the team. Coming in at 18th was an incredible achievement for this team and should not be underestimated.
As the team moves forward with their last game of the year, in February at Utah State, and into next season the Cougars have much to look forward to. The Cougars have talent coming back across the board, and thanks to a new addition to the ACHA bylaws that was put in because of BYU, the Cougars will have more flexibility with their roster. Coach Gantt and the rest of the program should be excited for continued improvement that is bound to come as the program continues to find players that will help the Cougars win on and off the ice. Fans should be just as excited and if they want to see an exciting game played on the ice, make plans to catch as many games as possible next year in Provo. Congratulations to BYU Hockey on their successes this year, and Cougar Nation looks forward to more successes for years to come.