Goaltender Anthony Ciurro proves why he belongs on the ice
It’s a bird. It’s a plane. No, it’s Arizona’s hockey goaltender Anthony Ciurro saving the day.
The No. 16-ranked UA hockey team faced their arch rival the No. 25 ASU Sun Devils on Friday, Nov. 30 and Saturday, Dec. 1st at the Tucson Convention Center. The Wildcats came out of on top in both games with dominant performances, winning 3-0 Friday and 4-0 Saturday.
Most hockey players can agree that goaltending is the hardest position on the ice. Their performance can highly impact the outcome of the game. A great goalie must stay mentally engaged the whole time because one mistake can cost the team.
Ciurro did not once check out of these two matches. He had 44 saves and zero goals against. After defeating the Sun Devils over the weekend, the Peoria, Arizona native now has recorded three shut outs and 328 saves this season.
“Coming in you want a shut-out every game,” he said, “Especially for me. I’m competitive and I don’t like being scored on.”
Last time UA played ASU at home in September, the scores were 2-1 and 4-2 in favor of Arizona. This time Ciurro challenged himself to not let ASU score on him three times. For Ciurro, when you set goals, you can achieve them.
It's been two months since the 'Cats have faced their rivals are home. What changed since then?
“We’ve had a lot more practices,” Ciurro said, “We came in prepared and the boys took care of business.”
Every time Ciurro made a save, the fans cheered and so did his teammates. Captain Anthony Cusanelli, who had a total of three goals in the two games, expressed how comfortable he feels having a goaltender like Ciurro to protect their net.
“I can’t say enough about him. He’s been unreal for us,” Cusanelli said. “Three straight games, no goals against, you can’t ask for more. I’m super proud of him and I thought he’s been awesome for us so far.”
According to the American Collegiate Hockey Association, before playing his two games against ASU, Ciurro was ranked third on the goalie leaders list and it is not hard to tell why. Ciurro had consistently competed in 13 matches for the 'Cats this season and added another two matches after the weekend.
In 2018 as a freshman, Ciurro was named a finalist for the ACHA All-Rookie Goalie Award. That year he had a great season and went on to be a starter at the national tournament. He was named to the All-Tournament Team - Honorable Mention.
Ciurro attended Centennial High School and played with the Victoria Cougars of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. He was given an impressive amount of recognition then and had the best save percentage three years in a row. In his last year playing for the Cougars, he won a VIJHL Championship over the Campbell River Storm 6-3 in game six.
Head coach Chad Berman has been aware of the potential Ciurro had since he recruited him.
“This kid is a gamer, the bigger the game the better he plays,” he said. “We gotta get this kid. We bugged him ever since and boy am I glad we’ve got him.”
The UA will take a month off before facing GCU on Friday, Jan. 4 at the TCC.
“We’ll try to get on the ice as much as we can, but sometimes ice is scarce, so working out and trying to stay in shape and be ready to come back against GCU,” Ciurro said.
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