UA hockey takes on GCU for first time in season opener
An Arizona hockey player plays in the game for the Media Day event on Sept. 28 at Tucson Arena.
To kick off their 2017-18 season, the Arizona Wildcats hockey team will be facing off against the Grand Canyon University Antelopes for the first time ever.
The Antelopes took to the ice as a Division II ACHA team for the first time last season. The team posted an overall record of 6-22 and a home record of 3-7 with 91 goals for and 168 goals against and look to become Division I next season.
Last season forward Tate Erickson was the leading scorer with 30 points (16,14) in 30 games with the Antelopes. This year Erickson does not appear on the roster, but Matthew Tweten, who finished second on the team in scoring with 27 points (11,16) remains an Antelope.
After two games into the season, Tweten has zero points and one game played. Nick Marolda is leading the team with two points (1,1) after two outings against ASU.
Arizona will be GCU's second opponent, and only other Division I opponent of the season after opening up at home with two games against Arizona State. The Antelopes fell 8-3 and 4-2 to the Sun Devils, so they will be looking to avoid a losing streak to start the season.
Arizona will be hitting the ice for the first time the season with a young roster and new leadership and cannot take GCU lightly. The Wildcats lost their top seven scorers from the previous season but look to compensate with new bright young stars on the team.
Max Meyer will be a player of interest as he came from the elite Yellowstone Quake in the NA3HL. He was 5th in leading scoring for the team with 54 points (23,31) in 43 games. Arizona head coach Chad Berman noted that Meyer is a very versatile player and make those around him better, so when he's on the ice the Wildcats should be getting some good offensive chances.
GCU has more of a combination of heavier players with smaller players than Arizona, so the Wildcats will have to find a way to avoid getting frustrated by the bigger players in the corners and open ice. The match, given it is two Arizona teams, has a high likelihood to become gritty – similar to that of an ASU matchup.
Both teams have to find their identity and the team who can find their feet first in this match, and get going will be the one to take home the win. Because of the risk of the game slipping into collar-grabbing after the whistle, sticking to a speed game and avoiding getting stuck in the defensive zone for too long is of utmost importance for both teams.
Puck drop will be at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 29 at the Tucson Convention Center.
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