The Brighton Bengals took down the Alta Hawks on Wednesday in a hard fought game by a score of 9-6 to move on to the state championship game once again.Â The Bengals and Hawks took each other on earlier in the regular season in one of the best games of the year with Alta winning 9-8.Â Brighton took that loss personally and handled Alta on Wednesday.
Brighton came out firing on all cylinders to start the 1st quarter, scoring 2 unassisted goals from middies Elias Fariman and Matt Moffitt.Â The Bengals then scored once more on a great feed from Middie Brandon Wall to Attackmen Kurt Pascoe who had to dive and take the shot from his knees to find the back of the net.Â Brightons goalie Nate Wilkinson had an outstanding first quarter, shutting down Alta with 4 saves.
Brighton kept it going to start the 2nd, scoring on a sweet dish from Middie Dillon Tran to Attackman Jayden Haws.Â Alta finally got on the board with a goal from Middie Kyle Baldassari to end the first half, but had plenty of chances to score more than that.Â Wilkinson had another stellar quarter, recording 4 more saves to keep the lead at 4-1 going in to halftime.
Both teams had an offensive explosion to start the second half, with Alta scoring first to cut the lead to 2.Â Brighton answered back with two more of their own to push the lead to 6-2 before the Hawks came roaring back once again.Â Alta scored two unanswered that looked to frustrate the Bengals just enough to get them in to some penalty trouble.Â Brighton was down 2 men with unreleasable penalties while Alta scored once more to cut the lead to 6-5.Â The Bengals then got another penalty to go 3 man down, but did a great job of harassing the Hawks and would not let them score again.Â BrightonÂ got the ball down the field despite being down 1 man before Dillon Tran got the ball off of a timeout and immediately drew the double team from 2 of Alta’s best d-poles.Â Tran somehow split the double team and crashed the cage to score a short handed goal and pump up the Brighton sideline, ending the 3rd quarter at 7-5.
Brighton scored once more to start the 4th quarter, on a feed from Wall to Fairman, their second connection of the game, putting the lead back to 3.Â Alta scored once more on man-up on an assist from Jake Arbon to Matt Michaeli but couldn’t get much more on offense after trading possessions with Brighton.Â Evan Alger scored once more to put the final stamp on the game for The Bengals, ending it at 9-6 and sending them back to the championship game.
Alta had beaten the Bengals earlier in the season but fell short in this one, losing for the first time all season to an in state team.Â The Hawks were led by Michaeli who finished with 2 goals and 1 assist on the game.Â Alta had two players finish with 1 goal and 1 assist each; Senior Attackman Jake Arbon, and Sophomore Middie Kyle Baldassari.
The Bengals were led byÂ their Middies, Fairman who finished with 3 goals on the game, with 2 of his goals assisted by Wall, who finished with 3 assists total. Senior AttackmanÂ Evan Alger had a decent game finishing with 2 goals.Â Dillon Tran finished with 1 goal and 1 assist, including the big shorthanded momentum swinger.Â The most impressive performance for Brighton came from Senior Goalie Nate Wilkinson who finished with 12 saves on the day out of 18 shots, a much better outing then the last time these two teams met.
When asked about Wilkinsons performance, Brighton’s Head Coach Brandon Horoba said, “We’ve been waiting for him to play that way all year long, he is capable of that every game.Â Today everybody got to see why he’s the best goalie in the state, no matter what the awards say, he is the best goalie in the state.”
Wilkinson and the rest of the Bengals will face their final test of the season, taking on Salt Lake Conference foe Judge for the state title on Saturday.Â The Bengals and the Bulldogs met in the final game of the regular season, with Brighton coming out on top 10-7. The rematch should be one of the best games of the season so make sure to catch it!
The D-I state championship game will be played this Saturday, May 21st, 7:00 PM at Park City High School.