The No. 6-ranked Arizona men’s hockey team wrapped up the semester Saturday with a 4-0 win over arch rival Arizona State, sweeping the weekend series. The 'Cats were led by the outstanding play of goalie Anthony Ciurro, who had 19 saves on 19 attempts.
On Friday, Ciurro contributed to another shutout; he had 25 saves on 25 attempts. After the game, head coach Chad Berman spoke about what Ciurro brings every time he is called to be in the net for the 'Cats.
“Having Ciurro in net gives you a chance to win every game,” Berman said. “We are going to ride him in net as far as we can.”
Ciurro has been a real difference maker for the 'Cats, with three straight shutouts so far.
On Friday night, Arizona got off to a great start against its rivals as they scored just 20 seconds into the game. Forward Trey Decker was the first to put the 'Cats on the board.
A few minutes later, the Wildcats added another goal, this time by forward Bayley Marshall. Arizona took full control of the first period, and it was the difference in the outcome of the game. Captain Anthony Cusanelli joined the scoring party in the second period, adding a goal that proved to be the final dagger of the night.
On Saturday, the team got off to a much slower start coming out of the gate and were tied at zero at the end of the first period. The 'Cats then were able to take full advantage of some given power play opportunities, as they scored three different times on the power play.
The first came in the second period when defenseman Manny Rowe powered his way in for a goal. A few minutes later, the 'Cats got their power play chance and capitalized with forward Ethan Stahlhuth driving the puck right into the back of the net to put the Wildcats up two to zero against the Sun Devils. Cusanelli then added two more and put the game out of reach for the Sun Devils. Cusanelli addressed how important it is to have someone like Ciurro in the net at the end of the game.
“How about Anthony Ciurro, geez, hell of a game by Ciurro. Really gave us an opportunity to win,” Cusanelli said.
The crowd was another big factor in the weekend series against the Sun Devils, as the Wildcats had their biggest crowds of the season. Berman spoke about the general atmosphere and how the 'Cats played to the electricity of the crowd.
“To play in front of that crowd, I’m jealous. I’d love to put on the skates, and it gives us such a boost. I hope it continues down the stretch of the season,” Berman said.
The 'Cats will now have the next month off before they play Grand Canyon University at Tucson Convention Center on Jan. 4. The team finished up the first semester with a 16-3 record and are now tied for first place in the Western Collegiate Hockey League standings.
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