Arizona Coyotes slip to the Anaheim Ducks
The Arizona hockey team earned a No. 16 seed in the ACHA Division I national tournament. The team plays Western Michigan University on March 3rd.
The NHL came to Tucson Monday night when the Arizona Coyotes took on the visiting Anaheim Ducks. The Coyotes had a lead for most of the 60 minutes, but slipped in the third to lose 6-4.
It was the young guns that shined for both teams. Twenty-one year old Nick Ritchie notched two goals for the Ducks - the highest on the team, and Dylan Strome stood out with two points, one goal and one assist.
The Ducks played to their strengths, speed and grit. The Coyotes came out of the doors fast and hard, equalling the play of Anaheim, but the tables were soon turned as the Ducks pressured in both their offensive and defensive zones. By being hard on the puck and clogging up passing lanes, Anaheim dominated play throughout the game.
However, Arizona showed they could compete when they didn’t let the Ducks frustrate them. Arizona had to focus more on a speed game to escape the pressure. Despite being so young, the team brushed off the chippy play of the Ducks with ease on some occasions. On others, they still struggled to keep the pucks on their sticks.
Most of the predicted players to keep an eye on were on the bench and all made a splash in their own way.
On the Ducks, Rickard Rakell and Brandon Montour both found twine behind Louis Domingue. Montour’s shot was also the reason the young Coyotes goaltender left mid-second period with an apparent injury. Rakell did not face elite level NHL centers this game, which is something he will have to do quite a bit as a potential second-line center, but still had a decent outing in terms of impact and positioning. Him, as well as his Ducks, were hardly out of position defensively.
As for the Coyotes, Ryan MacInnis, Anthony Duclair, and Kyle Wood all grabbed some attention of the fans. MacInnis was a bottom-six center, but lacked the physicality his linemates had. At the beginning of last season with the Roadrunners MacInnis had struggled with being physical and not being pushed off the puck. Toward the end of the season he gained confidence and used his body more, but has shied away from that thus far.
Duclair looked like a changed man from last season. He was aware of all his surroundings and who was on the puck and where the puck was. He was impactful on both ends of the ice, and especially on the defensive end - which is out of character. Regardless, he was willing to take a shot in the shins to save a goal several times.
Wood wasn’t in top form either, but played better than he did at the end of last season. He used his body and size to intimidate the Ducks, attempted to pick fights after whistles, and made clean defensive zone passes. His confidence and puck control in the offensive zone could be improved, but his play didn’t deter fans from lovingly yelling “Wood!” every time he touched the puck.
Arizona still has two more preseason games to play before they open the season against Anaheim on October 5.
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