‘Cats light lamp for a season record 15 times
There’s debate if there’s any worth in the “bag skate” in hockey. The Wildcats might say there is, considering after theirs, they went on to win 15-0 against Grand Canyon University.
A total of nine players scored. The players and their goal totals were as follows:
Anthony Cusanelli (4 goals)
Chris Westlund (3 goals)
Robert Smythe (2 goals)
Jake Dickison, Orion Olsen, Justin Plumhoff, Ben Furie, Griffin Dyne, Tyler Griffith (1 goal)
After today, Cusanelli takes the ACHA goal-scoring lead back with a total of 26 goals. With a six point night under his belt, his point total increases to 41.
It wasn’t just Cusanelli that had a great game, a usually defensive forward Chris Westlund was named player of the game after his first career hat trick with the ‘Cats.
“Yeah definitely there’s some nights where you have a hot hand I guess, but I was getting set up all night by my linemates [Cusanelli and Stahlhuth],” Westlund said.
Robert Smythe also made his return as a Wildcat after playing for the team last season.
“You add a kid like Smythe and, man, that adds another big body, a really skilled kid with a tremendous skill set. I’ve been curious all Christmas break, wondering what Meyer, Griff [Griffith], Smythe would look like and it looked really good tonight,” head coach Chad Berman said.
While nine players found twine, every skater contributed to one of the weakest parts on yesterday’s game: passing.
Passing might be the most important aspect of a hockey game, especially for the Wildcats who pass the puck, for the lack of a better phrase, a lot. Arizona attempted a total of 287 passes, 208 which were successful (Arizona maintained possession). Their overall passing game was good for a 72 percent success rate.
Most of their passes came in the offensive zone as the team flaunted their effective cycle game, especially on the power play. Because of this style, Arizona caught GCU players out of position and the goalie off-guard, thus leading to their 15-0 win.
Where Arizona appeared to struggle most was when they tried to get out of their own zone. Only 60 percent of passes that went towards their blueline to breakout were successful. The other 40 percent were intercepted by GCU, or blew past their initial target for icing or a turnover. Against ranked teams, this weakness could come back to bite them.
Arizona continues their homestand with two games on January 12 and 13 against the University of Utah Utes. Arizona battled against the same team two times before in Utah and won by scores of 5-2 and 5-3. Both games will start at 7:30 p.m. at the Tucson Convention Center.