Miners prep for Utah State in first round of ACHA Regional play
02/27/2019, 7:45pm MST
By Staff // minershockey.com
UTEP faces Aggies in first round Thursday at 4 p.m.
EL PASO —Two years ago, the Miners were fresh off a championship win in the newly formed Texas Collegiate Hockey Conference, with a roster full of fresh faces embarking on something not many college club teams can say happened as quickly as it did for the Miners. For the second time in four years, the Miners are preparing to take the national stage at the ACHA Regional Tournament, this time the Miners have unfinished business to attend to.
A lot is different this time around, the Miners have a few more upperclassman, a whole lot more confidence and the hunger to go further than two years ago. “It definitely helps especially since a lot of our players were part of that team,” Coach Herman said. “Each year and each team has its own identity, but I think the past experience and the preparation we have had will help.”
Following a big win in the final game of the TCHC Championship against Texas A&M, the Miners waited patiently to hear their name called during the D2 ACHA Selection show. The Miners, a 12 seed, drew the number nine seed Utah State Aggies.
Miners vs Aggies
The Aggies have been to Regionals before but the Miners -- like they have done all season -- are ready to take the ice and fight to keep their season going. “They are going to be a tough team. They are big, a great skating team and move the puck well. It will be a big test for our club,” said Herman. “They are a skilled team with good goaltending. It is going to take a solid team effort on our part.”
Although the Miners and Aggies haven’t faced each other prior to Thursday game, they do have an opponent in common, the Texas A&M Aggies. Earlier this season Texas A&M fell to Utah State, 2-1.
Scouting the Aggies
Finishing in second place at the Mountain West Championships following a 2-0 shutout loss to BYU, the Aggies finished their season 14-16-1-2. Utah State found the win column this season against San Diego State, Grand Canyon and a strong rivalry with BYU. Forward Josh Kerkvliet leads the Aggies with 49 points (33 G, 16 A) in 34 games. Followed by defenseman Brett Fernandez who has 30 points (11G, 19A) in 34 games played for Utah State. Colter Pritchard has logged 1537 minutes in net for the Aggies and has made 877 saves, with 3.78 goals against average and a .900 save percentage in 26 starts.