Arizona hockey changes brought new start past winter break
A new year brought several changes to the Arizona hockey team in an effort to shake things up following the team’s three losses before the start of winter break.
Arizona coach Chad Berman said the team has changed everything from the team’s line combinations and practice times to the stalls in the locker room.
Another difference for the Wildcats in 2016 is the addition of forward Brian Schehr, a transfer from the University of Rhode Island.
“He’s [Schehr] got a fire in him and has got a strong desire to win,” Berman said. “I love kids that want to battle and compete and that’s what I see.”
UA had a chance to showcase its new personnel and changes when the team took on the University of Colorado Friday and Saturday night at home.
The then-No. 9 Buffaloes quickly jumped on Arizona goaltender Austin Wilson on Friday night as they struck three times in the first period.
The Wildcats' Kyle Griffin found the back of the net late in the first and second period to cut the Buffs lead in half 4-2.
Robbie Wilkinson then brought the crowd to its feet as he tipped in a wrist shot from John Hogan, beating Colorado’s goaltender to make it a one-goal game.
Ultimately, Arizona wasn’t able to record the game-tying goal as Colorado took advantage of the Wildcats’ sloppy defensive play and deposited two more goals. The Buffaloes won by a score of 6-3.
“Not many teams can win when giving up six goals,” Berman said. “We’ve got to be a little insulted by our defensive details of the game that are lacking.”
For UA’s captain, Dylan Carter, the game gave him his first opportunity to play against his brother Luke Carter, a forward for the Buffaloes.
“It’s always weird when you see one of your siblings across the ice,” Dylan Carter said. “I played with my brother one year in juniors, but never against.”
For Dylan Carter, he was more focused on the defensive lapses and the lack of discipline the team showed in the loss, but was proud of the group’s effort in working themselves back into the game.
“Our team has got to battle back if we’re down some goals. That’s always something that’s going to get the ball rolling,” Dylan Carter said. “I was really happy with the bounce back we had tonight but unfortunately it wasn’t enough.”
Saturday night’s contest saw UA goaltender Garrett Patrick start. The Wisconsin native shined bright with a slew of highlight saves to keep the Wildcats in a tight game against Colorado.
The first two periods featured a defensive battle between both teams. In the third period, the Buffaloes drew first blood on a power-play goal that came off a controversial Arizona penalty.
But soon after, the Wildcats’ Brian “Toppie” Hogan gave the Tucson Convention Center crowd a memory it won’t forget.
Toppie Hogan sprung on a breakaway, darted in on the Colorado goaltender and faked a forehand shot, but then wisely brought the puck on his backhand and tucked home the game tying goal in the late moments of the third period.
The game would remain scoreless through overtime and the Wildcats found themselves in yet another shootout.
Arizona wasn’t able to match the Buffaloes' two tallies in the shootout, however, as the UA fell by a final score of 2-1.
It was a game that didn’t feature much offense from the Wildcats, but they proved to themselves that they were able to play alongside one of the best teams in the American Collegiate Hockey Association.
“We’re an organization going in the right direction, it’s as simple as that,” forward John Hogan said.
The Wildcats play again on Jan. 21 at the TCC as they take on Ohio University, with puck drop scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Follow Seth Pines on Twitter.