Arizona hockey concludes home stand

The No. 16 Arizona Wildcats finished a nine-game home stand this weekend when the Wildcats beat NAU on Friday night and fell to No. 7 Minot State on Saturday night. Arizona (6-6-3) jumped up the rankings from No. 17 to No. 16 after defeating the ACHA Division II  NAU Ice Jacks 4-3 during a shootout Friday.

Freshman Alex Nespor was first to open, scoring within the first two minutes of the game. Nespor’s goal triggered fans to toss unwrapped teddy bears or stuffed animals onto the ice during the Wildcat’s third annual “Teddy Bear Toss.”

Kyle Griffen scored his third goal of the season to tie the game 2-2 with assists from captain Shane Gleason and Jake Campbell.
Assisted by his roommate Brett Fagerheim, Nespor scored his second goal of the night to tie the game 3-3 and head into overtime.

“During the power play, Brett had a really nice shot at the point, and I just got a stick on it and put it back in,” Nespor said. 

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The Ice Jacks outshot the Wildcats 6-4 during overtime, but both teams remained scoreless and were forced to go into a shootout. This was Arizona’s second shootout of the season. There have also been four overtimes.  

During the shootout, Arizona starting goalie Garrett Patrick blocked two of the three shots on net from the Ice Jacks.

“It felt great,” Patrick said. “I could stand tall for the boys and get a win. It was a good feeling. I don’t really think too much during the actual shots; I just wait for the player to make a move and then I will react.”

This made room for Arizona forward Dylan Carter to shoot and score, giving Arizona a 2-0 record during shootouts.

“I just came down and didn’t really know what to expect,” Carter said. “I looked at the top right corner and shot as hard as I could, and, fortunately enough, it went in for me and got a big win for the team and obviously a good time for the fans.”  

Saturday night was not so pretty for the Wildcats as Arizona fell to Minot State 5-1. The Beavers (11-6-1) jumped out to an early start as Dillion Smith and Nick Zern scored to take a 2-0 lead over the Wildcats.

With just 11 seconds remaining in the second period, Arizona was awarded a penalty shot. Robbie Wilkinson capitalized on Arizona’s opportunity and cut Minot State’s lead to 3-1.  

Unfortunately for the Wildcats, Arizona could not stay out of the penalty box. Uncharacteristically, the Wildcats allowed Minot State to go 2-7 during power plays.  

“We need to keep our heads and stay out of the box to beat teams like that,” Patrick said. “We didn’t do that tonight and it kind of killed us.”

Arizona will leave the warm Tucson weather to travel to the chilly east coast on Thursday night to play Rutgers University before competing in a two-game series against Drexel University.  
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