Goaltending continues to be staple for Wildcats in 2-1 victory over Rams
A storyline for the season has been the depth of Arizona's goaltending. The coaching staff, game after game, praises their three elite goaltenders who have saved games for them more than once. Friday’s match-up against the Colorado State Rams was no exception.
After a particularly tough night for Anthony Ciurro, and a relief appearance for Anthony Bivolcic against Colorado, senior Austin Wilson was named starter in the first of two games against Colorado State. In his last two starts – which were back-to-backs last weekend – Wilson let up just three goals in each game and owns the best save percentage of the trio with .914 through the season.
In this game against Colorado State, he would let in just one goal.
The goal would come during a mad scramble in front of the net that had Wilson lying on his back on the goal line with Wildcats and Rams crowding his crease. It was a power play goal for CSU, and it would be their only one of the night.
Nick Zellmer scored first for Arizona, a nice shot from just below the point, and Justin Plumhoff would wind up with the game-winner on a power play in the second period. Tyler Griffith assisted on both goals and ended the game with two points.
Wilson was named player of the game after his 22 save effort, which translates to an impressive .956 save percentage. His save percentage was slightly higher than that of Dax Deadrick, CSU’s goalie, who had a .934 save percentage, stopping 31 of Arizona's 33 shots.
Wilson stood on his head throughout the game, making big saves when it meant the most.
"It's a position, really, when you're playing with a lot of confidence, I mean, it goes a long way for ya. So, you make a couple big saves early and you kinda get a rhythm not really thinkin' about it anymore," Wilson said post game regarding what goes through his head in pressure situations.
Head coach Chad Berman praises Wilson often for his work on the ice, but he also views him as a key piece to the team off the ice as well.
"He's [Austin Wilson] without a question, he's a leader of this group. Not often do goalies get letters but he was definitely someone we considered because he has a very strong vocal presence in our locker room," Berman said.
As mentioned by Wilson during the press conference, goaltenders are a unique breed that face unique challenges. Because of that, it isn't unusual for goalies to remain quiet in a locker room and let the skaters deal with what the skaters need to do and focus on their duties in the crease, but Wilson clearly isn't that way; this appears to be pushing the Wildcats in the right direction.
When the freshman goaltenders ever have an issue, they can run to Wilson for advice Berman said.
It’s no question that when times get tough, Arizona’s goalies are going to hold them up.
Saturday is Arizona’s last home game until December; puck drops at 2p.m.
Follow Rachel Huston on Twitter