Wildcat hockey has played three different goalies in the last three weeks.
Junior Steven Sisler (10-13) has led the way most of the year, but after Arizona blew a number of multi-goal leads, sophomore Robert Schultz (3-5) stepped in last month. Another change came in the game against then-No. 5 Oklahoma when freshman Dylan Hojnacki started and beat OU in a shootout (3-0) in Arizona’s last home game.
For Arizona’s trip to Liberty, Sisler started and Arizona won a crucial game, but last weekend, head coach Sean Hogan turned to Schultz at No. 2 ASU.
Hogan said the goaltender carousel not because of inconsistent performances, but because they are all playing well.
“Steven Sisler’s played fine,” Hogan said. “They saw Sisler a lot, Schultz played them one time.”
Arizona played Schultz while trying to end its four-year winless streak against the Sun Devils, and it almost worked, as he made 50 saves, but the Wildcats fell in overtime. Then he made 27 saves on Saturday and earned the “player spotlight” on Arizona’s website.
“So we gave Schultzie a shot and he played great Friday,” Hogan said. “He earned the start on Saturday and he played well Saturday. I don’t think any of the goals were his fault.”
Wildcats blow lead, again
The theme for Arizona hockey in 2013 has been the blown lead.
On Friday, Arizona blew a three-goal lead at No. 2 ASU.
Arizona led No. 3 Minot State 2-0 during two games, but blew two-goal leads Jan. 4 to lose 6-2, and Jan. 5 to lose 5-3.
The next week, Arizona lost a 5-2 lead in the third period against No. 10 Liberty on Jan. 11.
Then on Jan. 17, Arizona couldn’t hold its 1-0 lead on No. 16 Central Oklahoma.
The Wildcats were able to avenge one of those losses to Liberty with a win this past weekend, and this week they travel to Minot, N.D., with a chance to pay back the Beavers.
Junior defenseman Michael Basist is excited about that opportunity.
“In both games we had a two goal lead,” Basist said. “It’s always disappointing when you blow a lead in games. I think if we can go there on the road and focus and if we can get a lead, I think we’ll be able to hold it.”
Arizona is the lone ranked team with a losing record (15-18), but it continues to set milestones.
Arizona’s 15 wins are its most since 2007-08, and its 26 games against ranked foes this year are the most since the ACHA was founded in 1991.
“We have really turned it around,” Hogan said. “After this weekend we will have played 28 games against ranked opponents; that’s unheard of here.”
The Wildcats’ 30-game winless streak against ASU is frustrating, but their losses, 4-3 in overtime and 5-1, show the gap is closing. In 2010, the Wildcats lost 10-2 and 13-4 to No. 2 Lindenwood.
“That’s mostly the guys. They’ve been working really hard; they want to change the culture,” Hogan said.