Wildcats hockey endures tough Tempe road trip, extends winless streak
TEMPE, Ariz. — No. 20 Arizona (2-2-0) extended its winless streak against No. 2 ASU (5-0-0) to 34 games after being swept and outscored 11-1 during the weekend.
The Wildcats fell 5-1 Friday after heading into the third period down by two. The third period of Saturday’s game was a low point in Arizona’s young 2013-14 season, surrendering four out of the Sun Devils’ six goals in the shut out.
“We have to get better quick because I’m sick and tired of losing to ASU and the guys on the team are, too,” said head coach Sean Hogan. “I still have a ton of faith in our guys and our system. It’s a proven system and it’s won three championships before. We just have to start working a little harder.”
Freshman forward Grant Nicholson scored the series’ only Wildcat goal on Friday. It was the first time he found the net in his college hockey career.
“It was a really good feeling,” Nicholson said. “It put us down by just two goals at the time and we didn’t end up winning, so it never evolved to anything. But it was still good to get the monkey off my back and put one in the net.”
Sophomore Dylon Hojnacki started between the pipes in both games. Friday was his better performance as the 2012 walk-on made 49 saves on 54 total shots on goal.
Freshman Robert Levin started for the Sun Devils on Saturday and got the shut out. Levin, who turned down offers for a spot on several NCAA Division I programs to play for ASU, had 22 saves against the Wildcats.
“He’s a hell of a goalie. We’ve got a fun four years ahead of us watching him in net,” said ASU head coach Greg Powers. “He’s very good. They [Arizona] could have easily been up one, two, three-nothing on us. He helped us win the game.”
Even though the Wildcats were shut out and lost by six goals Saturday, the first period ended with no score and Powers even admitted his Sun Devils were outplayed in the contest’s opening 20 minutes.
“That was probably the best period we’ve ever played in my time here,” Hogan said. “It included everything we’ve ever taught or coached. I was very happy with it.”
Because “Disney on Ice” will require the ice time at the Tucson Convention Center, Arizona will hold this week’s practices in Chandler, Ariz. The team will only be able to practice twice before flying to Lynchburg, Va. Thursday for a two-game weekend series against No. 14 Liberty (7-0-0).
“It [practicing in Chandler] isn’t ideal but it’s another thing that we’re going to have to overcome and keep getting better and better,” Hogan said.
—Follow Joey Putrelo @JoeyPutrelo