From The Daily Utah Chronicle
By Chase Mullin
If you’re looking for a new sports team to follow at the University of Utah, the women’s hockey team is an entertaining team to watch. In just their second season in existence, the Utes have established themselves as a legitimate force to be reckoned with, and a team that other schools fear playing.
The University of Utah women’s hockey team played their inaugural season during the 2019-2020 school year and unfortunately did not have a season in 2020-2021 due to the pandemic.
While hockey has had a long, rich history at the University of Utah on the men’s side, which dates back several decades, it has not taken very long for the women’s team to establish themselves as a highly respectable program with a notable presence on campus. The women’s hockey program has nearly doubled the size of its roster since their inaugural season in 2019-2020, and the roster consists of a mix of returning veterans as well as a handful of talented freshmen.
“We have a lot of freshmen and a good amount of seniors too who have shown us the way,” said freshman Mikayla Torrey.
Utah women’s hockey competes in Division I of the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA), and they belong to the Western Collegiate Hockey League (WCHL), a conference within the ACHA. The Utes’ conference consists of the University of Colorado, Denver University, Arizona State, Air Force Academy, Grand Canyon University and of course, the University of Utah.
While the WCHL is a relatively tough conference, the Utes are confident that they can compete for the division title as well as do some damage at ACHA nationals in March.
“We’ve been working hard since August and the team is looking really good. We want to be a competitive team in our division and hopefully win and compete for nationals as well,” said senior forward Allie Litzinger.
Although the Utes are still the new kids on the block in their conference, they are looking to prove to the rest of the conference they are not to be taken lightly.
“We want to be the team to beat. We want teams to be scared of us,” chuckled Torrey.
It didn’t take long for the Utes to send this message. In just the first period of the new season, the Utes put up an astonishing eight goals against rival University of Denver, leaving one of the Denver players to legitimately burst into tears during the intermission, proving that the Utes are not only good, but their games are some of the most entertaining to watch on campus.
The Utes would go on to win the game 10-1, and would follow this up the next night with another statement win against Denver, this time by a score of 13-2 to open up the season with a 2-0 record in conference play.
So far this season the Utes have been led by freshman Grace Cruikshank, who has tallied eight goals and five assists in just five games, good enough for a 2.60 points per game average. Freshman Halle Hansen has also been a staple in the Utes offense through the first five games this season, having posted four goals and four assists so far, with a 1.60 points per game average. The Skatin’ Utes are also led by captain Brooke Burns, who has been deemed the funniest person on the team by a couple of her teammates.
In addition to nearly doubling the size of the roster, the Utes also have a new coach, Braeden Yeo, who has a rather impressive hockey resume, to say the least. Yeo played college hockey at Colorado College, where she served as the team captain. She is also the daughter of Philadelphia Flyers assistant coach Mike Yeo, who has coached in the National Hockey League for nearly ten years.
The Utes’ next big test comes at home in a two-game series against WCHL rivals, the University of Colorado Buffaloes on Nov. 12-13. Come out to the Salt Lake City Sports Complex and cheer on the University of Utah women’s hockey team.
Whether you are a hockey fan or not, hockey is one of the best sports to see live, and the Skatin’ Utes Student Section is an experience every student at the University of Utah should have at least once. Who knows, you might just see one of the opponents shed a tear or two.
(Originally published at https://dailyutahchronicle.com/2021/10/30/utah-womens-hockey/)