The rivalry lives on

No longer a league team, Utes still challenge Bulldogs

The Vernal, Utah, hockey team left the Rocky Mountain Youth Hockey League this year, but the rivalry with Craig was too good not to reschedule.

"It's always been a good game between the two teams," Bulldogs coach Darin Hickey said. "It's too bad it wasn't a league game, but we're glad we could see them again."

The Bulldogs took advantage of the home ice to take a 6-4 win in the first game and a 2-2 tie in the second.

"Vernal came out more physical in the second game, and we sort of lost our cool," Hickey said. "That took us out of our game."

The Bulldogs opened up the first game quickly when Bo Boatright found Joel Pomeroy for a goal less than 1 minute, 30 seconds after the first face off.

The Utes scored the first of three power-play goals seven minutes later to tie the score at 1.

The Bulldogs racked up 24 minutes of penalties in the first game.

"Vernal played really well with a 5-4 advantage," Hickey said. "(Goalie) Bryce (Ponikvar) did a great job considering how much penalty killing we had to do."

The Bulldogs scored four times in the second period to take a 5-3 lead into the third period.

The Utes moved within one goal on a power-play score by Jeff Conely with 13:46 left in the third.

Two minutes later, Mike Lef--ler added an insurance goal for the 6-4 win.

The Bulldogs spread out the scoring with five players finding the net. Boatright was the only Bulldog with multiple goals. He scored two.

The second game kept fans and players entertained. Ver--nal lost one player, who was ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct, a fight erupted among the Vernal fans, and three players -- one Bulldog and two Utes -- left the game because of disagreements with coaches.

Moffat County's Brad Grin--stead tied it up when he put back a deflection with 3:24 left in the game.

There were 32 minutes of penalties assessed in the game, but no team scored during those minutes.

"We didn't capitalize on rebounds," Hickey said. "Their goalie had several saves that were just by instinct because there was no way he could have known where the puck was."

"It was a great night to prepare us for the playoffs," Hickey said.

The Bulldogs have a road trip to Oak Creek on Saturday, which will be the final tuneup before the RMYHL's Northern Division Playoffs.

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