Arizona hockey hosts friends for important series
Needing wins, Wildcat hockey faces a familiar foe this weekend.
No. 17 Arizona (5-7-1) hosts No. 7 Oakland (9-4-2) for a two-game series on Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Tucson Convention Center.
This weekend wraps up Arizona’s six-game home stand, which it has gone 1-3 on so far.
“Oh this one’s very important,” sophomore defenseman Shane Gleason said. “Oakland’s ranked high and we played them last year at the Showcase, and we felt like we had them on the ropes but we let them get away; so this is definitely a big one. We want to get back at them.”
Last year Arizona played then-No. 11 OU in the ACHA Showcase and lost 5-1.
“It was 2-1 going into the third and we played pretty poorly in the third and lost 5-1, but it was a much closer game than that,” Hogan said.
Hogan said he and Bachusz talk nearly every day, often about their teams, so the Wildcats and Grizzlies know each other well.
“We definitely want to get it for him,” Gleason said.
Last week, Oakland split with then-No. 9 Davenport, while Arizona was swept by No. 1 ASU.
Friday is UA Sports Club Night and Saturday is UA Employee Night, when employees of the university can get tickets at a discounted price.
Last night Oakland began its Arizona road trip with a 3-2 loss to the Sun Devils in Tempe, Ariz.
Despite getting swept, Arizona was tied with ASU for much of Saturday’s game, which inspires confidence in the team.
“If we go out and play like we did Saturday night, we’re going to be tough to beat,” Hogan said.
The Wildcats are No. 16 and No. 14 in the latest computer rankings. Oakland is ranked No. 12 and No. 9.
Hogan coached Oakland from 2005 to 2009, going 88-50-7. The Grizzlies won a Division II national championship in 2006 and then a Division I championship in 2007, when both Bachusz and Schaeffler served as assistants.
“We’ve been calling it a ‘statement weekend’ for Arizona hockey,” Hogan said. “We’ve been playing the best teams and we need to beat some of the teams ranked 7 through 15 for us to get to the national tournament.”
Arizona’s only win since sweeping then-No. 11 Illinois on the road on Oct. 13 was over No. 20 Eastern Michigan.
“Losing five out of our last six is pretty disappointing even though it was against Ohio, who was No. 1 at the time, and ASU,” Gleason said. “So it’s definitely a statement weekend, we got to come out and prove ourselves for sure.”