Arizona hockey heads into its final two matchups Feb. 18 and 19 against rival ASU with a 4-2 record overall this season.
Both teams have been heading in opposite directions this season. Arizona is looking to end the year with a winning record and a shot of getting into the postseason. That will depend on what happens in their games at Minot State University this weekend and ASU at home next.
The Sun Devils have a few more games left than the Wildcats, including two against the University of Oklahoma and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and one against George Mason University before they face off in their final two Arizona matchups.
ASU comes into the homestretch with a losing record and will most likely finish that way. However, whenever these two programs meet there’s always heightened interest locally and packed stands at their home ice in the Tucson Convention Center.
Club hockey may seem to be an afterthought to some people, especially when ASU also has a Division 1 NCAA team, but for these teams rivalry on the ice matters.
“The rivalry between Arizona and ASU on a hockey rink is just about as intense as it can get,” Arizona hockey coordinator Tanner Harris said in a phone interview. “I am not sure if there is another sport that plays ASU at Arizona as much as we do. We have an eight-game series every season and the winner of that series receives the Cactus Cup, which has been in our possession for the last three seasons."
“There is nothing quite like having the fans in [Tucson Convention Center] cheering on the Wildcats when the Sun Devils are in town,” Harris added. “It is definitely games all our players have circled on our calendars and get excited for.”
No one experiences the intensity of a rivalry like this more than the players.
“It’s the best rivalry in ACHA and the games definitely mean more,” said Wildcats forward Anthony Cusanelli. “There is a long history between the two schools, and it is not something we take lightly.”
“These games are the most fun for us. Seeing thousands of Wildcat fans each time we play ASU gives us the extra boost we need to win,” Cusanelli added. “Winning the Cactus Cup is one of our main goals each year.”
The fact that these two programs meet each other eight times on the ice every year is unique and is one of the biggest things that makes this rivalry stand out when compared to other Arizona and ASU sports.
If You Go:
The Arizona Wildcats hockey team takes on rival ASU on Friday, Feb. 18 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Feb. 19 at 1 p.m. in the Tucson Convention Center. Tickets are $16 through arizonawildcathockey.org, and UA students get in free with their CatCard. Fans will be required to wear masks.
*El Inde Arizona is a news service of the University of Arizona School of Journalism.
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