Arizona hockey swept in penalty plagued series by Liberty
Every single time the referees skate onto the ice at the Tucson Convention Center, the fans in the “Madhouse on Main Street” boo them.
While Arizona hockey head coach Sean Hogan usually holds his tongue about referees, he made an exception on Saturday following a 4-3 loss to Liberty that lasted more than three hours.
Over 20 penalties were called that night, and Hogan even called the refereeing of the game a “gong show.”
“It’s partially the players’ fault, but you have to let kids play the game and figure it out,” Hogan said. “Ultimately it’s power play versus penalty kill, four on three, five on three — it’s not even hockey!”
Friday, the No. 13 Wildcats (12-15-0, 5-6-0 WCHL) fell to the No. 4 Flames (23-4-1) 5-2. After being swept at home by Liberty over the weekend, Arizona is now 4-9-0 against top-five ACHA opponents.
Against the Flames this season, the Wildcats finished 1-3-0 and were outscored 15-12.
“There was a lot of learning opportunities for our guys,” Hogan said. “At the end of the day you’re coaching 18 to 23-year-olds who get pretty volatile, but our job as coaches is to get their energy focused in the right direction, and most of the time it is, but sometimes it doesn’t work.”
While nursing a broken foot, Wildcats senior forward and captain Ansel Ivens-Anderson went on a scoring drought that lasted almost three months. He found the net in both games against the Flames over the weekend and has scored in each of the past four contests.
“It definitely feels good to almost be all the way back and contributing,” Ivens-Anderson said. “The rehab process took a little longer than I would have liked but it’s nice now to be able to keep up with someone like [Andrew] Murmes or [Brennen] Parker and help the team get some goals.”
This week Arizona will face its first ACHA Division II team since sweeping Long Beach State in November, when San Diego State (10-9-0) visits the TCC. Against ACHA Division II squads this season, the Wildcats are a perfect 5-0-0, outscoring them 30-9.
In the 2012-13 campaign, the UA also defeated every lower-level ACHA team on its schedule for the first time in seven seasons.
The series against the Aztecs will cap off a three-month-long home stand as well before the Wildcats hit the road for the first time since Oct. 20.
“I think it [the matchup versus San Diego State] will be a good change of pace for some of the guys,” said Arizona freshman goalie Garrett Patrick. “The home stretch has had its ups and downs. Some of these losses have brought out good character in the guys and we’ve learned from them, and it will help us in the long run on our road trip and heading into nationals.”
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