Hockey hosts rival ASU to conclude season
Arizona defender Shane Gleason (3) chases after the puck with Stony Brook forward Nick Barbera (11) during Arizona's 5-2 loss to Stony Brook at the Tucson Convention Center Arena on Jan. 23. Gleason and the Wildcats host rival ASU over the weekend.
Arizona hockey looks to snap a seven-game losing streak as the Wildcats finish up the 2014-2015 season with a home ice matchup against an upstate rival. Arizona (11-20-3) will host the Sun Devils of Arizona State (31-3-1) in a two-game rivalry showdown Friday and Saturday night at the Tucson Convention Center Arena.
The Wildcats have dropped two spots in the ACHA Division I Rankings to No. 25, while the Sun Devils remain on top with the No. 1 spot.
“For us, this weekend is our championship,” Arizona coach Chad Berman said. “Unfortunately, we fell short of our goal of making the national tournament; however, we can still accomplish something great. It’s not going to be easy. ASU has a powerhouse lineup; we must play excellent defensively to [give] ourselves a chance.”
ASU currently holds an eight-game winning streak over Arizona and has won 45 of the last 46 meetings between the two schools.
Arizona State has five players ranked in the top-100 overall in the ACHA for scoring leaders. Ranked No. 18 in scoring is Sun Devil forward Liam Norris, a Calgary, Alberta, native who leads ASU in scoring with a combined total of 48 points from 35 assists and 13 goals.
Robert Levin is the starter between the pipes for ASU with a .931 save percentage with 729 saves. This ranks Levin No. 6 overall in the ACHA goalie leaders.
The last time these two teams faced each other, the Sun Devils shut out the Wildcats with a 7-0 victory on a Friday night and then defeated Arizona 7-2 the next night.
Forward Robbie Wilkinson leads Arizona in scoring with 23 points from 12 goals and 11 assists. Freshman Dylan Carter comes in second with 20 points from eight goals and 12 assists. Captain Shane Gleason and assistant captain Alex O’Dea each have 17 points.
Garrett Patrick, Arizona’s starting goalie, has 782 saves with a save percentage of .887. However, freshman goalie Austin Wilson has earned more playing time as the season progressed. In eight games, Wilson has had 227 saves and currently holds a .897 save percentage.
As the season ends, so do the collegiate careers of three Wildcats. Seniors Gleason, Jason Effertz and Matthew Nowicki will all graduate this May.
“National tournament or not, these games hold the most weight out of any games this season for both teams,” Gleason said. “We have nothing to lose, and they have everything to lose. We’re just going to go out there and leave it all on the ice for each other. We’ve had a lot of learning experiences with some disappointing results, but a lot of that can be forgotten with a win or two this weekend. I can’t think of a better way to end my senior year than to give our fans the home win they’ve been waiting so long for.”
The puck drops both Friday and Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. at TCC.
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