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UTEP hockey closes out regular season against UNM

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The UTEP club hockey team has been nothing short of remarkable in their second year. Rebounding from a rough 2015-2016 first season, the team has done battle against the likes of Texas A&M, Texas and New Mexico among others.

The Miners started their season with a 5-1 win versus Texas Christian University, notching a second win against TCU and defeating North Texas before dropping their fifth game to Texas A&M. The Miners did not look back after that, rolling to a 22-2 mark by mid-January.

The Miners lost to Northern Arizona, before succeeding in revenge with back-to-back 8-5 and 9-1 victories against said club.

The UTEP team has been led by Jeramy Rezaeepour, sophomore business major, who leads the team in points, with 34 goals and 33 assists. Lukas Znosko, sophomore kinesiology major, leads the team in goals with 37 and has added 28 assists. In goal, Aleksander Lazarski, sophomore biochemistry major,  has been consistent, with a goals against average of 2.49.

The Miners are averaging over six goals a game, and have scored goals in all but one game, greatly reducing the strain on Lazarski in the net.

Fresh off an 8-2 win versus Grand Canyon University and sitting at 26-3, the Miners look to close out the season strong before they host the Texas Collegiate Hockey Conference (TCHC) tournament Feb. 9-11. All but one spot in the first-ever championship tournament has been claimed, with UTEP and Dallas Baptist in the no. 1 and no. 2 seeds.

“The support of UTEP and the city of El Paso has been amazing,” coach Tom Herman said, alluding to the sizable crowds that the team has seen at home multiple times this season. “It’s been a great season, but it’s not over yet. We are looking forward to the challenges ahead.”

The Miners will look to ensure their finish in the top 12 regionally, and they currently sit at no. 10. They will close out the regular season with back-to-back home games versus New Mexico, Feb. 3 and 4.

Facing the Lobos the team will see an opponent that gave them close games in two previous meetings. Meeting back in November in Albuquerque, the Miners won by scores of 3-2 and 6-4. The Lobos have played UTEP closer than any other squad on their schedule.

UNM is 12-4-5, and as hockey goes, overtime games occupy the third column if lost. New Mexico is led in goals by Nate Taglialegami, who has 14 goals and 14 assists. Austin Short and Graeme Chiasson are also major contributors, with 28 and 26 points, respectively.

These last two games should be a good end-of-the-regular season test for the Miners as they prepare themselves for the TCHC tournament.

Admission is free for UTEP students with a valid student ID. The Miners play their home games at El Paso County Events Center.

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Augie Touris, Contributor
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UTEP hockey closes out regular season against UNM