Wildcat hockey will face its third top-three opponent in the last six weeks tonight when defending ACHA champion Minot State visits for a two-game series.
A possible issue with the timing of these contests is the Arizona men’s basketball regular season opener at McKale Center on Friday and the Homecoming football game Saturday.
“Obviously basketball and football are the major sports here in Tucson,” said hockey head coach Sean Hogan. “It might affect attendance a little bit, but we’re doing everything we can in terms of promotions. Hopefully we won’t see a drastic fall-off, because Minot State is the top team in the country and we want as many fans here [at the Tucson Convention Center] as we can get.”
Throughout the series, the Wildcats will be clad in camouflage uniforms for Military Appreciation Weekend. Hogan said Wildcat hockey gives out free tickets at Davis–Monthan Air Force Base and to the ROTC.
“The jerseys are awesome; they’re great for Military Appreciation Weekend,” said senior forward and assistant captain Andrew Murmes, whose two grandfathers are veterans. “We all appreciate the people that protect us and put their lives on the line. For a mother to have her son go out to serve and not know what’s going to happen takes a lot of heart, so we support all the [military] families as well.”
The “Buy Two Tickets, Get One Free” promotion will be offered to fans all weekend, and $1 Hot Dog Night returns for Friday’s contest as well.
The No. 13 Wildcats (7-7-0, 3-3-0 WCHL) were swept last week by then-No. 18 Colorado State following their blowout win over Colorado 8-0 on Halloween. Arizona is looking to avoid losing more than two games in a row since dropping eight straight to end the 2012-13 season.
Junior college varsity team Williston State pulled off a shocking upset over Minot, getting a road shootout win over the No. 1 Beavers (13-0-1) last Saturday and handing MSU its first loss since Nov. 30, 2012. The last time Minot State had lost at Maysa Arena was on Oct. 29, 2011.
Senior forward and captain Ansel Ivens-Anderson is expected to make an early comeback from an ankle injury this weekend after sitting out Saturday on crutches. Another key part of Hogan’s offense, junior forward Michael Ferreira, could make an early return from his leg injury as well.
“I hope I can go out there and be the player I’m expected to be,” Ivens-Anderson said. “I’m certainly going to give 110 percent out there; there’s no doubt about that. I’m just hoping that my ankle can be healed up so I can play well enough to beat the No. 1 team in the country.”
Freshman goaltender Garrett Patrick is expected to start the two games for Arizona after shutting out the Buffaloes in his college hockey debut last Thursday.
The puck will drop at 7:30 p.m. as Hogan tries to earn his first win against a top-ranked team since taking over the Wildcat hockey program in 2011.
—Follow Joey Putrelo @JoeyPutrelo