Thursday night at Berkeley Iceland the BYU Icecats were quick to pounce on loose pucks - using their size, skill and speed to force turnovers and create numerous scoring opportunities.
Cal netminder Brad Buss faced 44 shots on goal. Many of BYU’s attempts were destined for the inside twine. If not for Buss’s outstanding performance between the pipes, the Cats could have easily attained double digits on the scoreboard.
The Bears were held to just 10 shots on BYU goalie Ben Shapiro in the first period, registering a grand total of 28 for the night.
Cal head coach Cyril Allen said his team needs to work harder and not get so preoccupied with playing offense when they’re on defense.
“Don’t think breakout when you’re playing defensive zone coverage,” Allen said. “Focus on playing your man, not chasing the puck. Support when there’s an opportunity to make a play, but if you chase after the puck you’re going to find yourself behind - just following the play.”
BYU blueliner Mark Ostebo notched the first of the Icecats eight goals at 4:53 of the opening period, despite Buss’s initial saves.
Minutes later, Jeremy Weiss lifted the Cats to 2-0 as he raced up the ice unabated, with no defender in sight. As Weiss approached the crease he hesitated slightly to freeze the goalie, then transitioning from forehand to backhand he flipped the puck into the open net.
The Cats’ co-captain Jimmy Burkart was next in line to jump on board with 5:20 remaining in the first frame. Stationed at the backdoor, wide open, Burkart easily roofed the puck past Buss’s outstretched glove to provide his team with a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes of play.
The Pac 8 Conference’s no. 2 point leader Sean Haq said there was only so much his line could do against BYU.
“What BYU brought is what I expected. And my line (with Chris Moulton and Amir Moazeni) just couldn’t do it,” Haq said.
A little more than five minutes into the second session the Icecats struck again for the fourth time on a blast from the top of the crease.
The Golden Bears were able to put some pressure on the BYU goalie, but each attempt on net was turned aside and recovered by the Cats.
With 5:48 remaining on the clock, a hard shot from the left side face-off circle found the back of the net to boost BYU’s lead to 5-0.
Less than two minutes later, the Icecats aggressive forecheck paid off again as they were able to maintain the zone and slip the puck over the Cal goal line for their sixth goal.
Coach Allen said his team needed to reduce the number of breakdowns so they could then focus on capitalizing on the other team’s mistakes.
“The problem is any 30, ten and five seconds worth of breakdown results in a scoring chance and those have to be eliminated,” Allen said. “Like any other sport it’s a game of mistakes. Those who make the fewest win the most.”
At 18:05 of the second period it looked as though the Bears had finally solved the BYU netminder after a scramble in the crease allowed for the puck to slip past Shapiro’s skate. However, players collapsed and the net was knocked off the moorings, therefore the goal was waved off and Shapiro remained perfect through two periods.
Cal came out strong in the third with forward Chris Moulton nearly spoiling Shapiro’s shutout bid after threading the D and hopping the stick of a fallen defenseman while maintaining the puck and still managing to get the shot off.
The final four minutes of the game found the Bears with the man-advantage after two consecutive infractions were assessed to the Icecats.
Ten seconds into Cal’s power play, speedy Toronto native Jeremy Weiss struck again for BYU on the wraparound, beating Buss to the other post for the shorthanded goal.
The final goal of the game saw BYU net another shorthanded tally 20 seconds into the Bears’ power play as Beau Adams connected with the slapper from the high slot to provide the Icecats with an 8-0 win over the Golden Bears.
Haq said a major factor in the big win for BYU was their firing power.
“We had our chances. I mean, I can only speak for my line, but we were trying to do too much and you can’t come up with many goals when you’re putting that much pressure on yourselves,” Haq said.
Allen said despite the two major breakdowns that resulted in the Icecats’ shorthanded goals, he thought the two teams were relatively even.
“We were a different team than we were in the first period. We did focus and we did play a much better style in the second and third periods. And that was a big improvement for us and a step in the right direction,” Allen said.
Friday and Saturday night Cal will host USC while SJSU contends with BYU for a playoff spot in the ACHA western region.
Haq said he feels Cal is a better team than USC, but notes that BYU barely beat USC, yet his team has now been pummeled by BYU twice.
“Different teams are better in different ways,” Haq said. “Like, San Jose State is always really close with us though they’re better than we are, as they’ve proven by beating us three times already.”
“I think it’ll be a close game between BYU and San Jose State,” Haq said.
For more information on the Cal hockey team and their schedule, visit their Web site at www.calicehockey.com