Vikings finish second in pool play; Alex Barrus scores three goals, assist in the tournament.
BOUNTIFUL – The Viewmont hockey team may not have advanced past the first round of the USA Hockey Nationals tournament, but it did accomplish something no other Vikings squad has.
The team won its very first game in nationals competition, beating Tri-City New England 4-2.
“It was exciting,” said Vikings coach Roger Barrus. “The kids were on cloud nine. The way we won that game was just awesome.”
Trailing the New England team 2-0 with roughly five minutes to go, Viewmont pulled together and scored two goals in a manner of seconds to tie the game.
The Vikings added two more goals to seal the victory, and the team was able to celebrate its first ever win for the rest of the day.
“When they won that one game the players had a great feeling,” Barrus said. “It was to be a part of all that. Our only goal entering the tournament was to at least get one win and we accomplished that.”
Viewmont put the win behind them and stepped onto the ice to face Fusion from South Carolina in the third and final game of pool play.
The Vikings held the lead through the first period and were tied with Fusion after two periods.
Viewmont fell behind in the third period 4-3 when a familiar sight fell to Viewmont in the closing seconds of the game.
Less than 10 seconds were left in the game when the Vikings thought they had scored the game-tying goal, which could have forced an overtime period.
The goal was waved off, giving the South Carolina team its only win in pool play.
“I thought we had the tie but it was called off because the referee said someone was in the crease,” Barrus said. “What happened was our player got cross-checked from behind and fell into the crease, so it was called a no-goal I guess because the referee didn’t see it.”
When the final buzzer sounded the stat sheet showed Viewmont’s dominating performance. In the losing effort the Vikings out-shot Fusion 47-15 in a game Barrus said “was their goalie’s day.”
“That goalie was really, really good,” he said. “He was in the zone the whole time and we knew when we got into the locker room that it was just his day.”
Barrus felt; however, that the Vikings could have won the third game had the potential game-tying goal not been waved off.
“The players knew who the better team was in that game,” he said. “Our goal was to win one game. We did that and still ended up finishing second in pool play.”
The Vikings took second thanks to their goal differential against the other 1-2 teams. Brookings, SD, which finished 3-0 in pool play, lost its next game and were eliminated from the tournament.
Barrus said unlike last season when the Vikings were an alternative going into nationals, there wasn’t as much pressure to accomplish too much going into this year’s tournament.
Winning the state title took all the pressure off, he said, and the players were able to enjoy the experience.
“Nobody took it for granted, but they were a more relaxed bunch,” Barrus said. “They had a lot of fun and learned more about life than just wins and losses, but once they got on the ice, it was all business.”
Alex Barrus led the team with three goals and an assist in three games. Jacob Wiser scored two goals with one assist and Tyler Wiser scored one goal and an assist.