No. 11 Arizona hockey (5-4-0, 2-1-0 WCHL) enters this weekend with just as much momentum as any team in the ACHA after sweeping then No. 3 Oklahoma. Friday at 7:30 p.m. the Wildcats will matchup against ACHA Division II in-state foe NAU (6-3-0) at the Tucson Convention Center for the first home game of the season. The following night Arizona returns to Division I play against No. 6 Delaware (8-0-1) also at 7:30 p.m.
The UA will host an alumni game at 5:15 p.m. on Friday and Saturday will be a “white out.”
While head coach Sean Hogan says the starting goalie spot is still open, don’t be surprised to see junior Steven Sisler (3-1-0) in net both games again. After saving 68 of 72 total shots in two starts against the Sooners last weekend, Sisler was awarded Player of the Week by his coaches.
Arizona’s new ranking, announced Thursday, is their highest since 2006.
The Daily Wildcat caught up with Sisler before the Wildcats finally play at home after 11 games on the road.
Daily Wildcat: With a record of 5-4-0 and the No. 17 spot in the ACHA Division I coaches’ poll, how do you feel about where the team stands going into this long stretch of home games?
Sisler: It’s definitely impressive. We’ve been on the road for the last four weeks and practicing in Chandler [Ariz.] is not easy to do when you have to battle through that adversity. We’ve played some really good teams, so I’m happy with it.
After suffering leg cramps late in the third period of last Saturday’s game, how are you feeling this week?
Much better. It took me a couple days for the soreness to go away. I’ve just been replacing lost fluids and eating right, but I’m definitely ready for the weekend. It’s just important that we keep up the consistency and bring the same thing to every game we play.
With Thursday being the only day to practice this week, how will that affect the team’s play this weekend?
Well, we definitely want to have a good practice Thursday because we only have one before the games. We’ll have a morning skate before NAU, too. Last week we only had one practice before going to Oklahoma and we still played well. We just have to keep our focus in practice and give 100 percent effort so we can get ready for the weekend.
What are you looking forward to most about playing games at the Tucson Convention Center again?
Just the convenience of having the rink nearby. Sometimes it’s pretty tough getting back late and having to worry about getting sleep when you have homework to make up for class. The drive to Chandler can also be brutal because I have a lot of homework or labs the next day.
After last weekend’s historic sweep of a top-five team, what kind of crowd do you expect at the TCC Friday and Saturday night?
Hopefully we get a pretty decent crowd. I know a lot of people are happy about the wins the past weekend and it was kind of a big statement weekend for our team, showing that we can play with any team in the ACHA. I think everyone’s excited to see what our team’s made of this year.
What’s going to be the most challenging part of facing NAU again Friday and then seeing Delaware for the first time this season Saturday?
I think it’s just important that our team keeps up the consistency, stays positive during the games and basically just do what we did last Friday and Saturday night.
What is the top reason students and Tucson locals alike should come out to Wildcat hockey games this season?
I think a lot of the fans here just like the intensity of hockey compared to other sports; they like the brutality of it. It’s a tough sport with a lot of skills involved and it’s a physical sport, so it’s very entertaining. I think a lot of Arizona fans appreciate that.
—Follow Joey Putrelo @JoeyPutrelo