Arizona Wildcats hockey splits first home weekend
No. 11 Arizona hockey (6-5-0, 2-1-0 WCHL) returned home to the Tucson Convention Center over the weekend for the first time since late February but split a couple of games against two different opponents.
The UA captured a win against NAU (6-5-0) Friday but was upended by No. 6 Delaware (9-2-1) the following night.
Behind senior goalie Steven Sisler’s 30 saves on 32 shots faced, the Wildcats edged the IceJacks 3-2. Sisler got the nod Saturday as well but his squad fell 7-4 to the Blue Hens.
“We have to work on our power play, but that’s just about making the right plays and making the right reads,” said UA head coach Sean Hogan. “It’s not about practicing it, necessarily. It’s just about making the right play.”
Keenan Turner / The Daily Wildcat Andrew Murmes, assistant captain, uses his body to get in front of a defense man on Saturday's game versus Delaware. The Wildcats lost to Delaware 7-4.
Arizona was down 3-0 to Delaware at the first period’s end, but scored four unanswered in the second to take a one-goal lead. It was short-lived, though, as the game was tied on a power play goal within the last few minutes of that period.
In the second period, Blue Hens senior forward Christopher Volonnino crushed Wildcats sophomore defenseman Bryan Drazner into the boards. Drazner suffered a bruised sternum from the 6-foot-2, 245-pound Vollino.
Vollino received a five-minute major penalty for the hit and was ejected from the game. Drazner’s timetable for return is unknown.
“They’re [Delaware] a hard-hitting team. I didn’t think they played dirty,” Hogan said. “They’re a good hockey team — that’s why they’re ranked sixth in the country. I didn’t think they did anything wrong.”
After missing the first two of his freshman and sophomore year due to injury and illness, Arizona junior defenseman Shane Gleason played in his first home opener at the TCC. He potted a goal in both games this weekend.
“It felt great [to finally play in a home opener],” Gleason said. “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: We have the greatest fans in the league. It was a really great home-opening weekend, especially for myself. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the win the second game, but Friday was a good win.”
Freshman forward Robbie Wilkinson also had a successful weekend, finding the net once Friday and twice the next night. His five goals in the 2013-14 campaign place him second on the team behind Andrew Murmes.
Because of ice problems at the TCC, the Wildcats were only able to practice once this past week. However, the team is scheduled to practice Tuesday and Wednesday on the ice before its Thursday game against Colorado (1-4-1, 0-1-0).
“We’ll go really hard in practice Tuesday and go over our power play Wednesday,” Hogan said.
—Follow Joey Putrelo @JoeyPutrelo