Arizona hockey head coach Sean Hogan said winning two of the three games over the weekend was what he needed from his players.
The No. 16 Wildcats (12-13-0, 5-6-0 WCHL) delivered for their leader.
Thursday was the UA’s first win over an ACHA Division I opponent since Nov. 8’s game against then top-ranked Minot State. The Wildcats had lost six games in a row, including a pair of exhibition games against York, a Canadian varsity team.
Arizona beat No. 5 Oklahoma 5-3 to end its losing skid. It was a successful night for the seniors; forwards Andrew Murmes, Jeffrey Wadhams and Ansel Ivens-Anderson each had a multiple-point game.
In net, senior goaltender Steven Sisler saved 46 of the 49 shots he faced from the Sooners (17-5-3, 5-6-0 WCHL).
With Thursday’s victory, Arizona swept the three games against the top-five ACHA program this season, outscoring it 11-7.
“I think we played really well this weekend,” Hogan said. “For us, it was a very successful Thursday and Friday night.”
The following night, the Wildcats finally beat No. 11 Central Oklahoma (19-7-3, 6-5-0 WCHL), 2-1. It also earned Hogan his 40th career win with the UA.
Freshman goalie Garrett Patrick was stellar between the pipes Friday, making 40 total saves on 41 shots.
“I just went out there and didn’t complicate things, really watched the puck well, and it helped me out,” Patrick said. “I like to come out and get a good angle and pretty much just wait for them [the opposing shooter] to make a move and react to whatever shot they have.”
The following night Arizona lost to the Bronchos 5-1. Central Oklahoma scored three goals in under two minutes in the second period, which resulted in Hogan pulling his Saturday starter, Sisler, for Patrick.
The UA’s lone goal in that game was scored by Ivens-Anderson. It was a big weekend for the captain, who scored in Friday’s victory as well.
Ivens-Anderson has been hampered by a foot injury for the majority this season. Heading into the pair of games against the Bronchos, the last time he had scored was on Oct. 11, when he potted two against Liberty.
“It felt good, it’s been a long time, so it’s really nice to get the feet moving again and score some goals,” Ivens-Anderson said. “It worked out pretty well this weekend; we’ve been playing together for a long time.”
In picking up a couple of Western Collegiate Hockey League wins, the Wildcats now have 14 points in the standings. Leading the WCHL pack is No. 1 ASU (25-1-0, 10-1-0 WCHL), which suffered its first loss of the season on Friday against the Sooners, the day after the Sun Devils had dominated Central Oklahoma 12-0.
Arizona opened the calendar year with 3-2 and 7-1 losses to York. The Lions are a Canadian Interuniversity Sport team, which is roughly the equivalent of the NCAA Division I, except the team has four players who played professionally.
No. 4 Liberty (21-4-0) is up next for Arizona on Friday and Saturday.
“We need to get in better shape,” Hogan said. “I don’t think we came back from the break in [as] good of shape as we could be, so we’ll work them hard Tuesday and Wednesday, then do some special teams Thursday and be ready for Liberty.”
Follow Joey Putrelo @JoeyPutrelo