Arizona hockey rallies, but falls late to Liberty
Tyler Baker / Arizona Daily Wildcat
The Arizona Ice Cats Hockey team lost to Liberty College 7-5 on Saturday Jan. 12.
Arizona hockey’s second game against No. 10 Liberty featured fights and comebacks, but still no UA win.
No. 18 Arizona (13-11) lost 7-5 to the Flames (16-10-1), including an empty net goal.
“We battled hard today,” head coach Sean Hogan said.
UA overcame deficits twice, from 3-1 to 3-3 and from 4-3 to 5-4 and senior forward Brian Slugocki tallied a hat trick.
“I’m not happy,” Slugocki said. “Our team played our hearts out and we got screwed over by the refs. It’s 100 percent what happened. We battled for 60 minutes and had some calls that shouldn’t have happened, but you have to look forward and we just have to win Thursday.”
The Wildcats lost their fourth game in a row, were swept for the second week in a row and haven’t beaten a Division I team since mid-November, but the game was much different than the last three.
Against No. 4 Minot State, Arizona blew two-goal leads twice and in game one against Liberty, blew a three-goal lead.
“We were down 3-1, not playing well and we battled all the way back to tie it,” Hogan said. “We’re not giving up, our guys aren’t giving up, we have the last spot at the national tournament right now, so we got to keep grinding.”
UA scored first, at the 11:40 mark, with a goal from junior forward Eric Watters. Junior forward Jeff Wadhams and freshman defenseman Nick Hinsberg got assists on the play.
Liberty scored three goals in a row in the first though, the first a minute after the Wildcats, then at the 7:07 mark and at 4:45.
In the second, UA battled back, starting with the biggest fight at home of the year. The ruckus sent three Flames and two Wildcats to the penalty box.
Then on the resulting power play, Slugocki scored at 10:26, assisted by junior defenseman Michael Basist.
“You have to do it, there’s nothing really to say about it,” Slugocki said about battling back. “You just have to do it.”
The second intermission started with an even bigger fight, involving all the players including Hinsburg who left the penalty box to join. The only ones not involved in the fight were the goalies.
“The fights and stuff like that, those things happen, it’s hockey,” Hogan said. “People that aren’t used to hockey might not know what that means. We don’t condone it, but that’s what happens.”
After the dust cleared, two players, including sophomore defenseman Matt Nowicki, were ejected, three 10-minute penalties were assessed and Liberty got a five-on-three power play. The Flames capitalized on the two-man advantage to score.
Then, with 15:25 left, sophomore forward Justin Gaudino scored, assisted by freshman forward Mike Adamowicz.
Two minutes later, Slugocki earned the hat trick.
“I could have scored seven goals, but we still lost,” Slugocki said. “That’s all that matters and I just hope in the future we can get a better result.”
The Wildcats return to action Thursday, when they host No. 17 Central Oklahoma.