UA hockey sweeps Colorado State, honors military appreciation weekend
Arizona hockey head coach Chad Berman said at the beginning of the week there was a greater responsibility for the team “to go to work” in honor of the Wildcats’ military Appreciation Weekend.
The Wildcats were up to the task as they beat Colorado State in this weekend’s series, as Arizona was led by goaltender Austin Wilson and forward Brian “Toppie” Hogan.
In an effort to increase competition between players, Berman elected to start Wilson on Friday night and his decision paid dividends.
The net-minder from Ludington, Michigan stopped 38 of 40, including two shootout attempts, as the Wildcats skated to a 3-2 shootout victory Friday night.
“He’s [Wilson] been steady and he’s confident, he’s on top of the crease,” Berman said. “I think he’s battling well through traffic and he’s battling to get loose pucks.”
The game remained scoreless until late in the second period when CSU’s Austin Ansay found the back of the net to put the Rams ahead 1-0 heading into the final frame.
Arizona had an early power-play opportunity in the third period and the team capitalized as John Hogan made a nice feed to his brother Toppie in the slot, as he deposited the first Wildcat goal.
Toppie wasn’t finished.
Minutes after Arizona’s first strike, Alex O’Dea wristed the puck off of CSU’s goalie Dax Deadrick as Toppie crashed the net and banged home the rebound to give the Wildcats a 2-1 advantage in the middle of the third period.
The Rams, who lost to NAU by a score of 7-6 Thursday night, did not show signs of fatigue as Ansay scored in the final minutes of the third period to send the game into overtime.
The backbreaking goal, however, did not deflate the Wildcats.
They pushed the game to a shootout where O’Dea and Toppie Hogan both went to their backhand in their attempts and each scored on Deadrick to give the Wildcats a 3-2 win.
“It was an unbelievable win,” Toppie said. “With the whole shootout, the whole crowd, it was military night, couldn’t ask for a better way to go out.”
Wilson was rewarded with the Saturday night start after his exceptional play the night prior.
He followed with another great performance, only allowing one goal as Arizona delivered much needed offense as the Wildcats won 3-1 and completed the two-game sweep.
Saturday night’s contest was a sloppy affair as the penalty box was a revolving door for both teams.
Arizona took control early in the game after defenseman Anthony Rosetta finished a nifty give-and-go play for the first goal of the night.
Wildcat Matthew Armenti joined in on the scoring as he unloaded a slap-shot power-play goal that beat Deadrick on the glove side.
The Rams’ Dawson Pascale scored a third period power-play goal, but Arizona’s Robbie Wilkinson sealed the victory for the Wildcats as he sent the puck through Deadrick’s five hole for the Wildcats third and final goal.
The biggest takeaway from this weekend’s series was Wilson’s impressive play in net, as he certainly made a case to be the starter moving forward.
Wilson credits his new and relaxed mindset going into games this year as what helped his surprisingly impressive play.
“This year, I’m focusing on staying more loose, joking around and really having fun with the game,” Wilson said. “Instead of 60 minutes of work, it’s 60 minutes of play.”
The Wildcats will face one of their biggest challenges of the season next weekend as ACHA’s top Division I team, Minot State (8-0), comes into town.
Arizona captain Dylan Carter, who has been sidelined with a collarbone injury, said he expects to return to the lineup against the No. 1-ranked Minot State.
The Wildcats will play the Buckshot on Friday and Saturday at the Tucson Convention Center, with both games starting at 7:30 p.m.
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