Arizona hockey embarks on road trip for a win
So it’s come down to this.
Wildcat hockey (15-17-1) travels to North Dakota to face Williston State (14-12-0) tonight and No. 3 Minot State (22-4-0) Friday and Saturday in the final games before the national tournament field is selected next week.
Ranked No. 18, Arizona holds the final playoff spot and a split with Minot State is expected to punch UA’s ticket to their first big dance since 2006.
“We have a big week ahead of us, we win a game and we’re in,” head coach Sean Hogan said.
Turki Allugman / Arizona Daily Wildcat UA's Hockey team lost ASU 5-1 at the Oceanside Ice Rink on Saturday 2/2/2013
Arizona has gone 1-2-1 the last two weeks at No. 10 Liberty and at No. 2 ASU.
“We’re really excited,” junior defenseman Michael Basist said. “Obviously what happened at ASU wasn’t ideal, but there’s a lot of positives to take out of it. Heading into Minot, we played them pretty tough at home and I think we can definitely split and it would clinch nationals.”
Arizona beat Williston State 5-4, a shootout win to open the second half of the season. The Tetons, who are an NJCAA team, have a 3-4-1 record against the ACHA this year, including a 2-1 win over Minot State.
How the voters will consider a win against the junior college squad is a mystery. WSC is applying to join the ACHA.
“Yea, you know what, I don’t know, because they are a good team,” Hogan said. “I honestly think that it might not matter one way or the other, that game; it matters how we do Friday and Saturday.”
Arizona led No. 3 Minot State 2-0 during two games, but blew two-goal leads Jan. 4 to lose 6-2, and Jan. 5 to lose 5-3. UA blew a three goal lead in Tucson to Liberty, but beat them in Virginia.
Basist said Arizona will hold on to a lead this weekend.
“We know the team and when you prepare for them, you can focus on what their tendencies are,” Basist said. “Liberty was a pretty good weekend for us, if we can do that, we’re in pretty good shape.”
Sophomore forward Logan Herauf leads Minot State with 41 points.
Former NCAA Division I player and senior forward Jordan Willert, has 20 points in 24 games.
In the two game series in Tucson, 13 Beavers scored points. Herauf led the way with four goals.
Hogan said he has watched “a lot of film” to try and replicate the Liberty road result.
Arizona could still make it with a winless trip, they have been ranked 18th since Dec. 7, but Hogan is worried about No. 19 Rutgers jumping the Wildcats. UA is 62 points ahead of the Scarlet Knights, but will voters value their split last weekend over Arizona’s 0-1-1 trip to ASU?
“It makes me a little nervous that Rutgers beat [No. 15] Stony Brook Sunday,” Hogan said. “It’s probably not the greatest thing in the world for us, it would be interesting to see what the voters think about that.”
The Wildcats are just 3-8-1 in 2013, but their wins are against Williston State, then No. 5 Oklahoma and at Liberty.