Hockey hosts San Diego State and former Icecats alum
Wildcat hockey returns home to face a UA legend.
No. 17 Arizona (8-9-0) hosts San Diego State (5-8-1) on Friday and Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. at the Tucson Convention Center. The Aztecs’ head coach is former UA star goalie Dennis Hands, who was inducted into the Icecats hall of fame in 2004.
“He’s heavily involved with Arizona hockey and he’s glad to see we’re headed in the right direction,” UA head coach Sean Hogan said. “We talk a couple times a season just about Arizona hockey in general.”
Last year, in Hogan and Hands’ first season, San Diego State visited Tucson. Arizona beat the Aztecs 5-1 and 5-2.
“It was really nice. I really enjoyed being back at the TCC, being on the visitor’s bench, standing there,” Hands said. “I really like what coach Hogan is doing and what the school is doing to help sustain a great program.”
Hands played at Arizona from 1993 to 1995.
“He was a great goalie for us in the early ‘90s,” Hogan said.
Hands played 67 games, had 1637 saves, a save percentage of .882 and a goals-against average of 3.53 for Arizona.
“He’s a good coach, a good guy and he’s taken over the program there and has done a good job,” Hogan said.
Senior forward Kevin Vaughn, who has 24 points on 11 goals and 13 assists in 14 games leads the Aztecs. Senior forward Joey Janowski has 14 points and freshman forward Travis Sevilla has 10 points. Junior goalie Alex Corbin has a 4.58 GAA and a .870 save percentage.
The Aztecs are ranked No. 8 in the west in the Division II rankings.
“We’re doing alright,” Hands said. “We have a 5-8 record but we are playing definitely one of the most difficult schedules this team has ever played, that’s for sure.”
Recently Colorado and Colorado State announced they are moving up to Division I and Hands hopes SDSU can join them.
“We would like to see that,” Hands said. “We’re working on recruiting …that’s the path we’re heading and that’s really where we’d like to be.”
Hands was the president of the Icecat Alumni Association but stepped down when he became coach of another school. Don Carlson, who played goalie from 1988-92, took his place.
“Don Carlson took over and has just done a fantastic job with the alumni association,” Hands said.
Hands is the only former Icecat that is a head coach in college.
Jeremy Goltz, who heads the Mission AZ Hockey youth program in Phoenix, used to be ASU’s head coach. Goltz was the American Collegiate Hockey Association Division coach of the year in 2010 and was the architect behind No. 1 ASU’s rise when he coached its team from 2008 to 2010.
Hands expects to have his hands full this weekend.
“I definitely would love to come in and beat U of A but with that being said, U of A wants to win all their games and they’re playing pretty good hockey right now,” Hands said.
Hogan, who normally avoids Division II teams, welcomes San Diego State.
“As long as he’s coaching there and they want to come, we’ll have ‘em,” Hogan said.
Hogan said the series will probably be played at this time of the year every season.
“Yeah, it definitely will be a nice rivalry,” Hands said. “The proximity is nice and San Diego State is now becoming much more competitive. We can definitely build a good rivalry. I know I can tell you, as the head coach on my side, we really want to beat U of A.”
Saturday will be “Skate with the Wildcats” nights, where fans can skate with the Wildcats for an hour after the game. To skate, bring a canned good and a pair of skates.