No. 20 Arizona hockey (2-2-0) will travel to Lynchburg, Va., to face No. 14 Liberty (7-0-0) this weekend, looking to snap its two game losing streak.
Last season the Wildcats were 1-3 against the Flames. Arizona’s 4-2 win on Jan. 25 in the LaHaye Ice Center was its only one against Liberty in 2012-13.
Everyone of their games last season were two or less goals except for the Wildcats’ 5-2 loss on the road Jan. 26.
“We have to get better on the forecheck and establish more pressure for us to have success,” head coach Sean Hogan said. “If we do that and play our game we can definitely beat them.”
Senior forward Andrew McCombe and freshman forward Robert Ward lead the Flames in points with 13 each. They are two of five Liberty players with 10 or more points.
On Arizona’s offensive side, senior forward and captain Ansel Ivens-Anderson along with junior defenseman Shane Gleason both lead their squad with four points.
Gleason and senior forward Andrew Murmes were named assistant captains on Tuesday.
Freshman Matt Pinel, a Lynchburg native, has seen the majority of playing time in net for the Flames. He’s started six out of his club’s seven total games played this season, with a flawless 6-0 record and 2.67 goals against average.
Sophomore Dylon Hojnacki, who was named the team’s Player of the Week for his efforts last weekend against ASU, will likely start at least one of the games. Hojnacki has started three out of Arizona’s four games in the 2013-14 campaign, with .910 save percentage.
However, Hogan has yet to define who the actual weekly starter between the pipes will be for the Wildcats.
“We have three great goalies with Garrett [Patrick], [Steven] Sisler and myself,” Hojnacki said, “so we’ll be competing all year in practice and in games for that spot.”
Patrick, a freshman, was unable to make the trip because he is recovering from a throat illness.
Arizona looks to continue its success in the penalty kill this weekend. So far, opposing teams have only scored on about 10 percent of their power play opportunities.
“Over the offseason we had a lot of good recruits and they’re committed to laying out the body and sacrificing, blocking the shot,” Gleason said. “We had three new guys playing in the lineup and it was great to see them step up and answer the bell when they needed to.”
The Wildcats have been off the ice since Tuesday’s practice in Chandler, Ariz. “Disney on Ice,” has taken the ice time in the Tucson Convention Center this week.
The puck will drop at 7 p.m. EST on Friday and Saturday night. Broadcast information for the games can be found on Liberty’s website.
— Follow Joey Putrelo @JoeyPutrelo