UA hockey faces big learning curve in upcoming game against Colorado State
A shake-up is in order for the Arizona hockey team, as head coach Chad Berman alluded to last weekend after the team dropped both its games to Oklahoma.
Berman confirmed sophomore goaltender Austin Wilson will get the start for the Wildcats on Friday night as they take on Colorado State (5-6-0) at the Tucson Convention Center.
Berman couldn’t confirm if Wilson would be between the pipes Saturday night as well.
“Wilson’s going to go Friday night and we’re going to go from there,” Berman said.
Wilson, who has appeared in five games this season, said he is ready to seize the opportunity.
“To get the first game [of] the weekend is definitely something. As a goalie in a battle, that [is what] you look for,” Wilson said. “It gives me the opportunity to fight for the second start on the weekend.”
The goaltender played solidly in his last appearance against Oklahoma on Halloween night, stopping 36 of 38 shots. Wilson didn’t receive any goal support, though, as Arizona fell 2-0.
Colorado State is currently No. 13 in the ACHA poll, but has lost four of its last five games.
However, Berman expects the Rams to bring a full 60-minute effort to both games this weekend.
“They’re a team that’s not going to overwhelm you with skill, but they will constantly pressure you,” Berman said. “They come at you in waves and they work hard consistently. They’re a team, frankly, that we haven’t matched up very well with.”
This weekend’s series also marks Arizona’s Military Appreciation Weekend, where the Wildcats will sport camouflage sweaters and honor those who have served in the U.S. military.
“I think this weekend also means a little more when you’re wearing the camouflage jersey,” Berman said. “It’s important that these guys understand who they’re representing when they wear that. To me, it’s a greater responsibility to go to work, and hopefully we can represent the military well.”
The Wildcats will need their bottom two forward lines to step up and generate opportunities for a stagnant offense that has scored only seven goals in their past six games.
Among the forwards looking to make an impact this weekend is sophomore Matt Reed.
“We’ve got a chance to beat a team that’s kind of been struggling, and I think that … we should come out and get a sweep at home this weekend,” Reed said.
Reed will be a key presence for Arizona on the penalty kill and will provide a boost of energy for the team this weekend.
The Wildcats allowing Wilson to become comfortable in the net in the opening period will be another key to Friday night’s game.
The majority of Wilson’s appearances this season have been in relief of Garrett Patrick, who has played lights out.
Arizona’s defense will need to keep Colorado State at bay to allow Wilson to sink into his groove and help guide the Wildcats to a much needed win.
The Wildcats play Colorado State on Friday and Saturday night at TCC at 7:30 p.m.
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