Wildcat hockey prepares for playoff run
Fresh off its first Western Collegiate Hockey League title, the University of Arizona hockey team found out which seed it will be in the American Collegiate hockey tournament and who its opponent will be. The Wildcats will be the No. 9 seed, facing off against the No. 8-seeded Liberty University Flames on Saturday, March 23, at 8:30 pm in Frisco (Dallas), Texas.
If Arizona defeats Liberty, a showdown with No. 1 seed Lindenwood is possible for the next round. If both Lindenwood and Arizona win in round one, it would be the second year in a row that the Wildcats face the No. 1 seed in the national tournament.
Arizona ended the season with a 31-7 record and finished with a undefeated 8-0 mark against ASU to capture the Cactus Cup for the second-consecutive year. UA head coach Chad Berman spoke on what the sweep meant for the team and what this year has meant for the Wildcats.
“This season-long sweep of ASU caps an amazing year for Arizona hockey,” Berman said in February. “Thirty-one wins, another Cactus Cup Championship and our first WCHL championship – now we can finally get the practice time on the ice we need to prepare for the national tournament. This is a great time for Arizona hockey.”
Forward Bayley Marshall led the team in most statistical categories, leading the team in points with 74 (27 goals, 47 assists). Team captain Anthony Cusanelli finished second in stats with 51 points, including 19 goals, which tied with forward Chris Westlund, and 32 assists.
The season wasn’t just about the attacking lines from the Wildcats. The defensive end, particularly in goal, were important parts in the Wildcats' success this season. Goaltender Anthony Ciurro finished the regular season with a 20-5 record and a 93.7 save percentage. The ‘Cats also found another gem in goal with goalie Nolan Bivolcic, who finished with a 11-2 record on the season and a 92.5 save percentage.
As the ‘Cats prepare for the National Tournament, the team will reflect on all the regular accomplishments for the program, but the team must quickly focus its attention on the goal at hand – winning its first National championship since 1985.
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