Worn-out Arizona hockey welcomes woeful Aztecs
The original version of this article incorrectly stated that Arizona was ranked No. 17 and that its record was 12-17-0. It is actually ranked No. 15 and is 12-15-0. The Daily Wildcat regrets the error.
Arizona hockey head coach Sean Hogan’s mentality when it comes to scheduling is: “In order to be the best, you need to beat the best.”
But after recently facing four top-five ACHA teams and a foreign university with a roster featuring former professional players, the Wildcats finally get to match up with a lower-division program again.
This weekend No. 15 Arizona (12-15-0, 5-6-0 WCHL) welcomes San Diego State (10-10-0) of the ACHA Division II for a two-game affair. When the puck drops tonight at 7:30 p.m., it will be the first time the UA has played an opponent of this level since sweeping Long Beach State at the Tucson Convention Center in the middle of November.
“Look at the week Arizona played Oregon in football; coach [Rich] Rodriguez’s quote was, ‘For us to win we have to play a perfect game, and they’re going to have to make a ton of mistakes’,” Hogan said. “[The Wildcats] went and outplayed them, and it was because Oregon overlooked them. So we have to make sure we don’t overlook anyone and we’re ready to go.”
Following the second 7:30 p.m. contest Saturday, attendees are encouraged to bring a pair of ice skates for the second Skate with the Wildcats promotion of the season. This event gives fans a chance to go on the ice and interact with UA players and coaches.
Not counting the two exhibition losses to York, the Wildcats are currently on a three-game losing skid and are 3-7-0 in their previous 10 games. However, over the past two seasons, Arizona hasn’t lost to lower division teams.
Like last season, the sampling size of ACHA Division II play is small for the Wildcats. In three contests against NAU and two versus Long Beach State this season, Arizona is a perfect 5-0-0, totaling a 30-9 scoring ratio.
“With every game, you want to go in with the same mindset; especially as a goalie,” said senior Steven Sisler, who Hogan said would start one of the games. “You always have to be ready for every shot you face, even against a less competitive team.”
The Wildcats pulled out the brooms in a pair of wins against San Diego State on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, 2012, outscoring them 14-5.
“These are games we have to win,” Hogan said. “We’ve overlooked some teams this year, and we lost. San Diego State is coming here probably expecting to win, just like we are.”
San Diego State will look to contain Arizona’s red-hot left wing, Ansel Ivens-Anderson, who has racked up eight points in the past five games on five goals and three assists. The senior captain has scored at least once in the last four contests as well.
However, UA senior center Andrew Murmes still leads the pack in points (40), goals (18), assists (22), power-play goals (eight), game-winning goals (two) and penalty minutes (107). With 11 games left, the Massachusetts native is likely to beat his single-season career high of 21 goals scored back in his sophomore year.
“Obviously it’s been a tough road and we’ve played some tough games,” Murmes said. “But when a team like this comes you just want to stick to your game plan. Although you may be able to beat someone individually, it still has to be a team effort.”
—Follow Joey Putrelo @JoeyPutrelo