The No. 23 Utah Utes came into Fridays game at 2-2 on the season, needing a big win over a top tier team to stay above .500, and start off a tough stretch of games against ranked opponents on the right foot.Â Utah had to work hard to gut out a victory over No. 10 Simon Fraser on Saturday night.Â The Utes and the Clansmen changed leads seven times throughout the game, setting up an emphatic overtime upset for Utah.
The Utes came out strong, jumpingÂ to a 3-1 lead at the end of the first, snagging momentum from a man-up goal with 7 seconds remaining in the quarter by sophomore attackmen Kyle Brennan. Utah looked to have a firm hold on the game before the Clansmen came storming back.
Simon Fraser scored 3 of the next 4 goals to end the first half tied at 4-4.Â After the break the Clansmen came out determined to push the tempo and quiet the rowdy Utah crowd.Â Only eight seconds into the second half, Simon Fraser sucked the air out of the building with a blast from freshman LSM Riley Wanzer (2:35 in the video).
The Clansmen then pushed the “Big MO” to a 7-5 lead before Utah answered with three straight scores, two coming from Sophomore midfielder Mack Schwoebel.Â The contest still entered the 4th quarter in OT because of a goal with one second remaining in the 3rd by Simon Frasers freshman midfielder Max Weselowski.
The show continued in the 4th with Simon Fraser grabbing the lead and pushing it to 10-8.Â Utah punched back, lead by a standout performance from Schwoebel who scored two goals within 39 seconds of each other, tying the game and then taking a 11-10 advantage with 6:19 left in the game.Â The Utes tried holding possession and running the clock down but Simon Fraser got away with one tying it up once more at 11-11 going in to overtime.
Utah made a change in face-off strategy having Senior Danny Polityka at X.Â Utah had won only six face-offs throughout the game, but got their most important 7th win from Polityka at the start of OT.Â The Utes then controlled possession for almost two minutes straight, firing shot after shot at Sophomore Goalie Kyle Middleton, who had a huge game for Simon Fraser but was eventually worn down by a relentless Ute offense. Polityka came up big for the Utes in OT, scoring on the crease, 2:07 into the overtime period from a quick pass by Senior Attackmen Mark Manning to end the game in dramatic fashion at 12-11 (3:20 in the video).
Polityka was big, but Schwoebel was just huge.Â Mack had five goals for the Utes, and when asked about his breakout performance Coach Morris said, “He’s just a gamer, he’s a kid that doesn’t always look pretty doing things but he gets the job done. He’s done nothing but work hard and keep going at it.”
The Utes will have to keep going at it every week to stay in the hunt for a playoff spot with some big opponents coming up.Â Their “anyone, anytime, anywhere,” attitude this season has presented a tough schedule that will test the teams will to compete against the best.
Utah has faced three top 11 ranked teams so far this season, and will take on the 8th, 6th, and 5th ranked teams in MCLA D-I over their next four games.
No. 23 Utah faces No. 8 Minnesota-Duluth on Sunday, March 6th, at 1:00 p.m. in Salt Lake City, Utah.