Inconsistencies hurt UA hockey as the Wildcats drop two games against No. 6 Oklahoma
Arizona hockey head coach Chad Berman, left, blows a whistle at the 2014 Fans Practice on Oct. 23, 2014. Berman has the Wildcats out to a very similar start to the 2014 season, when Arizona finished the year 11-22-3.
Halloween weekend provided the Arizona hockey team with its own set of scares as the Wildcats dropped both games against No. 6 Oklahoma in the Tucson Convention Center. Arizona quickly found itself in a hole Friday night as the Sooners jumped out to a 3-0 lead, exposing the Wildcats’ defensive corps that has struggled as of late.
Austin Wilson, sophomore backup goaltender, came in to replace Garrett Patrick after the barrage of Oklahoma goals and once again provided a spark in a draining 6-3 loss for the UA.
“Every time Wilson has come in this year, he’s played a really strong game,” said Arizona forward Robbie Wilkinson. “Unfortunately, when [Wilson] has to relieve Garrett in that situation, it’s a little unfortunate. But I think [he] steps up to the plate and does a really good job.”
The Wildcats gained a brief momentum boost in the second period as defenseman Sean Ozment deposited a power-play goal to bring Arizona within two. Arizona’s push didn’t last long, as Oklahoma quickly responded with two goals to put the game out of reach.
The productive night from sophomore forward Brian “Toppie” Hogan, who notched two goals, was the bright spot in the loss for the Wildcats.
“[Hogan has] been good for a while; he’s been due,” said Arizona head coach Chad Berman. “The kid has been heavy on the fore-check; he’s great on the face-offs, couldn’t say enough about what he brings to our team.”
Hogan acknowledged the team’s defensive play has to improve right away if the Wildcats want to find the win column.
“We just got to be better defensively,” Hogan said. “[If] we scored three goals, it should be enough to win. We got to focus on defense.”
Berman cited the Wildcats’ inconsistency in their practices as a reason to why success is not translating to the games.
“I’m not sure why doing the same thing and continuing to lose doesn’t sink in,” Berman said. “We’ll make changes to the roster necessary to find out who wants to play the game we need to play to be successful.”
Wilson was rewarded with the start Saturday night after his exceptional play, but he received no goal support from his teammates as UA fell 2-0.
The offensive woes continued for the Wildcats, as they were unable to generate chances from Oklahoma’s again stifling defense.
Berman was aware the Wildcats have mirrored the beginning of last season’s forgetful campaign when they posted an 11-22-3 record.
“Unfortunately, we’re having the exact same start as we did last year,” Berman said. “I don’t know if these guys get excited about the crowd and the details become less important or what it is.”
The head coach again acknowledged that changes to the roster, to any extent, would be made to get the Wildcats back on track.
“There’s not a complacent bone in my body, so I can assure you we’re looking for people to step up and take minutes, guys who are not in our locker room as well,” Berman said.
Arizona will play Colorado State on Friday and Saturday at the TCC, both starting at 7:30 p.m.
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