Wildcat hockey wins 6-1 despite break from practices
Arizona hockey won 6-1 against Grand Canyon University in Phoenix after going two weeks without ice time.
Because of the Gem Show at the Tucson Convention Center, the ‘Cats have had to resort to workouts as their main course of practice without their native ice rink. For the first period of the game against GCU, it was noticeable.
Despite out shooting the ‘Lopes 14-9 in the first, and taking the lead with the first of two goals by Justin Dungey, the Wildcats weren’t playing to their full potential. The Wildcats lacked sustained pressure on the forecheck, and were often pushed off the puck because of their tendency to dump it in the right corner. Only Justin Plumhoff’s line could keep the puck in the zone.
The Wildcat’s play was improved as the game progressed, and the Wildcats hit a hot streak, scoring three unanswered goals in the third by Dungey, Plumhoff, and Keelan Ulnick. However, defense still continued to struggle.
Defensemen were not able to keep the puck in at the offensive blue line, and turned over the puck at the defensive blue line. There was also a noticeable lack of shots from the point, with the forwards choosing to pass the puck amongst each other outside the slot instead.
Regardless, the game was a one full of lessons to be learned, but not necessarily in a bad way. GCU was a formidable opponent, allowing UA to slip back into the swing of things while being able to make mistakes that don’t cost them the game.
“Hopefully it’s what we learned about ourselves. I thought it was a productive skate. We haven’t been on the ice for two weeks, that can be an advantage to us, get a little break in February as long as we kinda get things back on track quickly,” UA head coach Chad Berman said.
The ASU weekend series is right around the corner, which marks what should be the returns of Chris Westlund and Anthony Cusanelli. The two, who have been scratched for now seven games, took to the ice for warmups but were not in the lineup for the game.
Based on the team’s play since they left the lineup and what has been said by both the players and coaches over the course of the season, it will be a return well worth the wait. However, the games will not be all about both Westlund and Cusanelli, they still need the rest of the team to contribute.
“It’s about maximizing what each guy does, we talk about it all the time. A guy like Cusanelli can’t do what he does if a guy like Grandov doesn’t do what he does. We really like the pieces we have, it’s about each guy maximizing what he brings to the table,” Berman said.
ASU weekend is Arizona’s final home series of the season with games on Feb. 16 and Feb. 18.
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