Wildcat hockey went 3-2 over the winter break, but failed to beat a Division I team.
No. 18 Arizona (13-11-0) beat NAU twice in December, 8-1 and 4-3, and then opened the new year with a 5-4 shoot-out win over Williston State. Then last weekend Arizona blew 2-0 leads in back-to-back games against No. 4 Minot State to get swept 6-2 and 5-3.
“We were up two-nothing both nights. It was a disappointing weekend for sure,” head coach Sean Hogan said.
The Wildcats were swept for the first time since the middle of November and their record drops to 5-8 against top 10 foes, and 0-8 against top four.
“We had spurts here, we looked like a great team at times, we looked like the team that beat Oklahoma and Oakland, but at other times we had our little mental breakdowns and they tend to capitalize on our mistakes,” junior forward Ansel Ivens-Anderson said.
On Saturday, Arizona jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, including a goal 45 seconds into the game by senior forward Brian Slugocki, but then the Wildcats gave up five goals in a row.
“The two goal lead is the hardest lead to stop, but you can’t make any excuses,” Ivens-Anderson said. “We had two goals and if we get that third one, it’s a totally different game — but we didn’t.”
Panes of glass on the ice broke twice in the same spot, with 14:03 left in the first and then with 2:32 left in the second period, prompting an early start to the second intermission.
After the break, Minot State scored a goal with 1:19 left in the second and with 10 seconds left in the period.
Though UA was leading 2-0 when the first delay came, Hogan said the delays weren’t why the young Wildcats lost.
“Those things are going to happen,” Hogan said. “We can’t blame it on the glass breaking twice. We got to be mentally tough enough to get through that.”
After the game, the captains and then later Hogan read the team the riot act.
“We gave them two goals, literally gave them the puck,” Hogan said. “You can’t do that and win.”
Last Friday, Arizona also led 2-0 against Minot State, but the Beavers scored six unanswered goals and won 6-2. The Beavers scored five goals in a five-minute span.
Last Thursday, the Wildcats beat Williston State 5-4, 1-0. Arizona trailed for the last five minutes of regulation until Ivens-Anderson scored the game-saving goal with 48 seconds left on a power play.
After a scoreless five minute overtime, Arizona won the three-man shoot out 1-0 after junior goalie Steven Sisler stopped the Tetons three times and freshman forward Bryan Drazner scored the game-winning goal.
Sisler made 22 saves in his first game action since Nov. 17.
On Dec. 8, Arizona closed out the fall semester with a 4-3 win over Division II Northern Arizona after nearly blowing a 3-0 lead on Teddy Bear Toss Night, where fans threw stuffed animals onto the ice after the first goal.
Junior forward Andrew Murmes scored the first and the game-winning goals.
“We were able to pull out the win and that’s all that matters,” Murmes said after the game.
On Dec. 7, Arizona beat NAU 8-1, behind a hat trick by Slugocki and four points and two goals by Ivens-Anderson.
Arizona returns to action Friday night when it hosts No. 10 Liberty.