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USU hockey, en route to nationals, awaits opponents to qualify

February 24th, 2013 Posted in Sports

By Ileana Borunda, Clayton Leuba, Tessa Italasano and Cale Patterson
The Blue Streak

LOGAN—The Aggies are headed to the national tournament again — they just don’t know who else will be there.

The American Collegiate Hockey Association’s West Regional Playoffs will take place Saturday and Sunday at the Salt Lake City Sports Complex to determine which teams will join the Aggies in the national competition, which will be held March 15 to 19 in St. Louis.

Utah State, which is 26-4-1 this season in men’s Division 2 play, has already qualified. Weber State University and the University of Utah will be among those competing in regional play this weekend.

“I would like to see Weber go to nationals over the University of Utah, strictly based on the fact they have rebuilt their program so well this last year and have given the top teams in the league really close and competitive games,” forward Chris Videto said.

Utah State has enjoyed several seasons with impressive win-loss records, but Videto said the team dominated play this season despite improvements across the league —Weber being a prime example. “This year the league has really picked up,” Videto said. “That says a lot about our team.”

During the next three weeks the team will take a break from scheduled games to prepare for the national tournament.

Even though they will not play any official ACHA games until nationals, the players are still expected to stay in shape and train for the upcoming tournament.

“We are going to try and schedule a few exhibition games to keep in playing shape,” said Stewart Hepburn, an assistant captain. “Players are expected to spend at least four days a week conditioning and doing cardio.”

Coaches and players on the team expressed confidence in the their chances.

“I just have that feeling we’re going to win it this year,” Hepburn said.

Coach Jon Eccles believes the team is peaking at the right time — and that bodes well for future recruitment.

“The success that we have now will help build for future teams,” he said. “People will want to join for coming seasons because of the current team’s winning attitude.”


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