Arizona hockey goes 0-3 on road trip, hoping for bid
Wildcat hockey lost three games in North Dakota this weekend and maybe their shot at the big dance.
No. 18 Arizona (15-20-1) was swept by No. 3 Minot State (24-4-0) 7-1 and 5-2 on Friday and Saturday night, respectively. The top 18 teams in the poll make the playoffs and No. 19 Rutgers looks poised to take it.
“Now it comes down to what the voters think of our body of work for the season and Rutgers’ body of work for the seasons,” head coach Sean Hogan said. “It’s not just this weekend.”
Though the Wildcats have been ranked 18th since Dec. 7, the Scarlet Knights are now very close. In last week’s poll, Arizona led Rutgers by 62 points, but the gap has shrunk to nine points in this week’s poll. Hogan said he is “confident” the Wildcats will make it in.
Tyler Besh / Arizona Daily Wildcat Hockey vs Oklahoma
“In our minds and I think a lot of the voters’ minds, we’re a tournament team because we’ve shown we can compete with the top 10,” Hogan said. “Rutgers has not done that, has not shown that they can compete at that level and man for man, I think if we had a game against Rutgers, we win that game.”
The field for the national tournament will be announced live on Wednesday during a selection show broadcast by Liberty on their website at 7:45 p.m. http://www.liberty.edu/index.cfm?PID=21918.
The Wildcats are just 3-11-1 in 2013 and the only ranked team below .500, but they beat No. 6 Oklahoma twice, once on the road, No. 9 Illinois twice on the road, No. 10 Liberty on the road and No. 12 Oakland twice.
Rutgers’ quality wins are over No. 11 Delaware, No. 14 Navy, twice against No. 16 Stony Brook, one at No. 17 Rhode Island and at No. 23 Westchester twice. The Scarlet Knights have scuffled a bit as of late too, going 5-5-1 down the stretch.
“Even though we haven’t been successful in the last two weeks, in my mind, we will make the national tournament based on strength of schedule, based on wins over top 10 opponents,” Hogan said.
The UA blew two-goal leads against Minot State on consecutive nights in Tucson but it wasn’t close in Minot, N.D.
“You need to put it in perspective on who we’re playing,” Hogan said. “They’re a very good hockey team and they’re No. 3, we’re No. 18. We’re not expected to beat that team.”
Hogan said two goals that “weren’t great goals” made the difference in the game Saturday. Senior forward Brian Slugocki and junior forward Ansel Ivens-Anderson scored UA’s goals.
“[Friday] night we didn’t play very well, we looked really tired,” Hogan said. “[Saturday] we played much better and actually we were, we had so many chances, the shots were dead even [Saturday] night, 34-34 and we had so many chances to score goals.”
Hogan thinks UA’s seven-game road trip, to No. 10 Liberty, No. 2 ASU and North Dakota got to the UA.
“Our guys were tired, it’s been a long trip,” Hogan said. “We only practiced one time [last] week, we had to practice in Chandler [Ariz.] the last two weeks.”
On Friday, freshman defenseman Bryan Drazner scored Arizona’s goal. The UA wrapped up its road trip to Liberty, ASU, Williston State and Liberty 1-5-1.
“We basically played the LSU and the Alabama of our league the last two weeks,” Hogan said.
The UA hasn’t made the national tournament since the 2006-07 season.
On Thursday, the UA lost 4-1 to NJCAA foe Williston State after giving up three goals on four shots in the first few minutes. Freshman forward Brennen Parker scored Arizona’s goal on a power play goal, assisted by freshman forward Mike Adamowicz. Arizona is No. 17 and 18 in the computer polls, while Rutgers is 18 and 19. The Wildcats wrap up the season or regular season on Feb. 22-23 when they host ASU.