(Photo Courtesy of Utah Athletics)
With 30 seconds remaining in the overtime period, Josh Stout found an open Jordan Hyde on the left wing for an underhand rip at the hash marks for the game-winner to secure the 12-11 overtime victory for the Utes.
Hyde’s game-winner earned him his sixth goal of the day and came a near full four minutes after Tyler Bradbury sent the game into overtime as he broke away from the Bellarmine defense and put one past JC Higginbotham to force the extra period.
Hyde also put home one of the other three fourth-quarter scores for the Utes, making it a one-goal game with 5:23 in regulation. Cody Hart tied things up at the 3:53 mark before Brayden Brown struck back for Bellarmine with just over two minutes remaining to put the Knights back up one.
Down 6-2 in the middle of the second quarter, Bellarmine was able to regroup and get their offense going with a pair of Justin Westcoat (3G) scores to end the half. Two early third-quarter goals from Benny O’Rouke (2G/1A) and Brayden Brown(4G) tied things up, 6-6, for the first time since it was a 2-2 game midway through the first quarter, and further expanded the confidence of the Knights’ offense.
All in all, Bellarmine outscored Utah 7-6 in the second half of the game and 9-6 from Westcoat’s first score through the final buzzer. Three wins at the faceoff dot in the third quarter, plus two forced failed Utah clears as well as three caused turnovers in the third and fourth quarters combined helped the Knights control possession and hinder Utah’s fast-paced style.
Utah was only able to break through that effort late in the game with Hyde and Hart’s goals giving the Utes back the momentum they hadn’t held since the second quarter. But it was the final few sequences that really pushed them across the finish line as they were able to capitalize off their opponents mistakes, which is a trait the Utes have shown all season.
Jon Robbins forced a turnovers on Tyler Bradbury with 1:09 remaining and after a successful clear Andy Whitley called a timeout. Up 11-10 and with 48 seconds left, Bellarmine had the opportunity to run the clock out. However, a cross-field lob pass from Benny O’Rouke was intercepted by Utah goalie Zion Dechesere and suddenly the Utes found themselves in a similar situation as they had one opportunity coming out the timeout, except they needed to score. And score they would with Bradbury’s overtime forcing goal.
Cole Brams (18-for-26) won the final draw of the day to open the overtime period Utah called a timeout shortly after. Coming out of that huddle, Max Coopman forced the turnover and Harrison Pate grabbed the ground ball before clearing it himself. Less than a minute later, Jesse Roth wouldn’t be able to hold onto the pass and Samuel Cambere took advantage, forcing the turnover, grabbing the ground ball, and taking it up field.
That Utah possession yielded a Tyler Bradbury shot that went high, but Roth backed it up for Bellarmine (although it was initially ruled that he touched the ball before it rolled out). The Knights called a timeout and on the clear the ensued was unable to advance the ball, thus giving Utah that final possession to seal the deal.
Bellarmine outshot Utah 40-39 while the Utes put 24 of their shots on cage and the Knights put 20 of their shots on cage. Utah won the ground ball battle 27-20 and had 17 turnovers to Bellarmine’s 20.
Zion Dechesere made 11 saves on the day for Utah. JC Higginbotham made 13 saves.
Defensive Battle Sways Towards Robert Morris
In a game that was very much a defensive struggle, the Robert Morris Colonials came out on top 9-7 over the Air Force Falcons to advance to the ASUN title game.
The two sides combined for 41 turnovers in the contest with Air Force committing 22 and Robert Morris ending the day with 19. Nine of the Falcons’ turnovers were caused while the Colonials have 12 of their turnovers caused by the Air Force defense.
Five of those nine uncaused turnovers for the Falcons came in the fourth quarter and helped to hinder any comeback effort. The Falcons cut the Colonials lead to two (8-6) with 4:14 remaining and a Chris Bardark pole goal made it a three-goal game with 1:55 remaining. That would end up being the final score of the game as the Falcons failed to get anything else going.
Ben Savick stepped in between the pipes for the Colonials to start the second half and made nine saves with a 60% save percentage, anchoring the Robert Morris defensive effort during those final two frames. Five of his saves came in the fourth quarter as he also played a part in helping to stifle the Falcons’ comeback.
Nate Randall made five saves with an 83% save percentage, allowing just one goal during his first half of play.
Heading into the second quarter with things all knotted, 1-1, Robert Morris was able to crack Jason Rose twice in the period with goals from Ben Swagerty (2G/1A) and Jake Boudreau (2G) to put them up 3-1 at the half. Once Robert Morris took the lead, they never gave it up.
Swagerty scored once more, putting one past Rose with just 12 seconds left in the third quarter. Trevor Barrett and Dan Taddeo followed with a pair of scores early in the fourth quarter to extend the Colonials’ run to four and push their lead out to 8-4, helping put a bow on the contest.
Jason Rose ended the day with 11 saves and a 55% save percentage as an anchor for the Falcons, facing a Colonials offense that got off 23 shots and put all but three of them on cage.
Brian Michael went 12-for-20 at the faceoff dot to give Air Force the advantage at the dot.
Utah and Robert Morris will play in the ASUN title game on Saturday at 2pm.