by Josh McFadden
The Utah High School Activities Association doesn’t recognize hockey as a sanctioned sport. But that doesn’t make a state championship any less meaningful for the Viewmont hockey club.
The Vikings finished off an unblemished season in style, defeating fellow state power Murray 5-2 for the Division 1 championship. Viewmont went 18-0 this season and outscored its opponents by a jaw-dropping collective score of 146-17.
“Winning a state title is something you never take for granted, especially against an opponent like Murray, who has a long-standing tradition of hard work and excellent coaching,” said head coach Roger Barrus. “So, when we won the state championship, every player and every staff member was elated. It was a long, hard road. The boys were screaming at the top of their lungs and throwing hockey equipment everywhere. I found myself sitting on the wall in front of the bench just watching. I couldn’t wipe the smile off of my face because I know what these kids went through to get that title. They took every challenge I handed them this season, and they pushed themselves to accomplish it.”
Viewmont got off to a 2-0 lead at the end of the first period in the title game. Garrett Zeidler opened the scoring for the Vikings off an assist from Cole Phillips and Mac Tanner. Austin Adams got an assist from Jake Boam and Ryan Berrett for goal No. 2. After Murray closed the gap to 2-1 with a second-period goal, Tanner found the back of the net for Viewmont, thanks to an assist from Tyler Phillips and Cody Barrus, making it 3-1 heading into the final period.
In the third period, Murray got on the board again, narrowing the Viewmont lead to 3-2. But Tanner found Matt Holmes for a goal to make it 4-2. Then, in the final minutes, Murray pulled its goalie, and Viewmont defender Cody Barrus stole the puck and raced away toward an empty goal for the final point of the game. The Vikings completed their second undefeated season in the last four years.
Roger Barrus said he and his players set goals to capture the state championship last summer when the team took a getaway to Barrus’ cabin in Idaho and drew up some strategies to reach the top of Utah high school hockey.
“We made plans together and committed to make no excuses,” he said. “The key was that we had to put more hours in than other teams. We had to be more effective with our practice time, work harder, and each coach and player would be even more prepared all season so that when we got to that moment, we’d be ready. We also needed to become a close family so that there were no egos on the team. We had to get to the point where nobody on the team cared who scored or who took the shots. We didn’t want our opponents to be able to game plan against us. We didn’t want super stars with high stats; we wanted a family unit that could score from any line and not allow our opponent to be able to make a plan to shut down a certain player or line. If they did that, we’d have another one waiting behind them to do the damage.”
Roger Barrus said his team captain Cody Barrus and alternate captains Phillips and Berrett, as well as goalie Keaton Morrison, were big difference makers for the team. They each put in extra practice time and effort during the season and led by example throughout the year.
“They do anything they can to make sure it’s their teammates who are in the spotlight and make sure they are hiding in the shadows, directing the team,” Roger Barrus said. “They’re just great kids. They’re not willing to take credit for anything but behind the scenes; they’re putting in all the extra time it takes to make the machine work at its best.”
Over the past four seasons, Viewmont has gone 58-1-1 in the regular season and 67-5-1 overall. The Vikings have made four trips to the National Championships the past six years. Barrus also acknowledges his assistants as well as team mom, Jan Boam, and the team’s trustee, Bryan Boam, for helping with the success.
“The best thing about coaching this team was watching the kids smile,” Roger Barrus said. “Sitting on the wall in front of the bench as the kids were throwing their gear in the air (after winning state) and hearing them say they loved each other made it all worth it.”