Arizona Wildcats hockey opens season with two wins at NAU
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — For the second straight year, Arizona hockey opened its season with a sweep at NAU, outscoring it by a total of 10-4 in two games.
Friday night the No. 20 Wildcats (2-0-0) defeated the ACHA Division II IceJacks (1-2-0) 5-1. Only two goals separated the teams on Saturday in a more difficult 5-3 victory for Arizona.
“We need to improve dramatically,” head coach Sean Hogan said. “We have some skill. We need better habits and we have to really work on the turnovers. We need a really great week of practice.”
NAU head coach Travis Johanson said there were positives to take away from the series, and he is comfortable with how the team played.
“It’s good competition, it’s only going to better us,” Johanson said. “If we keep our speed up like we did against this DI team, I think we’ll fare well in DII.”
The Wildcats’ penalty kill was lights-out on Friday. The IceJacks were 0-for-13 on the power play and gave up a short-handed goal to freshman forward Alex O’Dea in that game as well.
O’Dea, who added a second goal Saturday, was one of three Wildcats to net his first career college hockey goal over the weekend.
Freshman forward Robert Wilkinson beat IceJacks senior goalie, James Korte for his first goal Friday. The following night, freshman defenseman Wil Pointon scored his first goal at the ACHA Division I level.
Senior forward Ansel Ivens-Anderson and junior defenseman Shane Gleason led Arizona in point scoring with four each.
Gleason, who finished last season with seven points but no goals, scored one to go along with three assists. Ivens-Anderson found the net twice Friday and had two assists in the series.
“We had some really good periods out there. We were flowing well — good forecheck, good defensive zone,” Ivens-Anderson said. “We just want to build off the positive things from this weekend and practice before our next games.”
Hogan has yet to pick a definite starting goalie for the season.
Sophomore Dylon Hojnacki got the nod Friday and senior Steven Sisler was in the net Saturday. Hojnacki made 34 saves on 35 shots, while Sisler saved 19 of 22.
“Definitely not one of my best games; I had a few mental errors out there,” Sisler said. “That’s going to happen in your first game of the season. You just have to focus and get it out of your system and move on to the next games.”
Hogan said that freshman goalie Garrett Patrick could also see playing time next weekend.
This Friday the Wildcats head up to Tempe, Ariz., to face No. 2 ASU.
— Follow Joey Putrelo @JoeyPutrelo