Following a much needed 5-4 victory over No. 20 the University of Utah on Saturday, Jan. 21, the No. 16 Arizona hockey team looks to get back on track as Missouri State University comes to Tucson for a two-game home series at the Tucson Convention Center.
Missouri State is 9-12 overall and is coming off a 1-1 home series split against Maryville University of St. Louis. The Wildcats stand at 11-7 overall and won their last game against Utah in 1-1 away series split, snapping their three-game losing streak to start the second half of the season.
What to look for: Arizona
Forward: Jesse Lowell
Jesse Lowell is coming fresh off of a productive series against Utah, scoring a goal and assisting two others to bring his season totals to 14 goals and 14 assists. As the leading scorer and assist man for the Wildcats, Lowell might look to be the main focal point for Arizona’s offensive game plan against Missouri State.
Defense: Cameron Teamor
Defenseman Cameron Teamor is coming off his best performance of the season against Utah, scoring a goal and adding two assists. While Teamor’s offensive productivity is down compared to last season, this latest burst may perhaps be a sign of good things to come for both Teamor and Arizona.
What to look for: Missouri State
Forward: Josh Olson
Josh Olson put up high numbers against Maryville University, scoring two goals to help the Ice Bears split the series. While Arizona may look to contain Olson’s teammate Jacob Wiethaupt, who is the leading goal scorer for Missouri State, Olson’s latest hot streak could turn out to be the X factor for the Ice Bears.
Forward: Jared Bratton
Speaking of hot streaks, Jared Bratton had himself quite the game against Maryville University last week, scoring two goals in Missouri State’s 6-1 win. With a dynamic trio of forwards coming off recent hot streaks, Arizona will likely have quite the challenge these next two games.
The game plan
The calling card of Arizona all season has been their ability to defend at a high level and limit teams from getting good shots on goal and scoring. That hasn’t been the case to start the second half of the season. The Wildcats have surrendered over four goals on average their last four outings.
“We have been a very good defensive team all season, but lately the details have slipped a bit,” Arizona hockey coach Chad Berman said. “Missouri State has a very talented team. If we can manage to pick up our assignments and limit their offensive weapons from gaining momentum then we’ll give ourselves a chance to win.”
Winning home games is also something the Wildcats are mindful of as the season reaches its conclusion.
“Every win is crucial at this point in the season,” Lowell said. “Coach says at this point in the season it’s no longer a marathon, it’s a full-on sprint. It always gives us a spark playing in front of our home crowd, and we have to use that to our advantage as much as possible down the stretch here.”
With only a handful of home games remaining, Arizona must look to defend home ice at all costs if they’re going to right the ship in the second half of the season. While Missouri State may boast a sub .500 record overall, the recent hot streaks of a few of the Ice Bears players will provide an ample challenge for the Wildcats to overcome this weekend.
If you go
Who: No. 16 Arizona (11-7 overall; last game: 5-4 win against Utah) vs. Missouri State (9-12 overall; last game: 6-1 win against Maryville University)
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m. (MST); Saturday, 1 p.m. (MST)
Where: Tucson Convention Center, 260 S. Church Ave.
Tickets: Adult $11.00, Student discount $7 with CatCard, Kids $6.00, Military/Senior $6.00, first 200 students with CatCard get in free
*El Inde Arizona is a news service of the University of Arizona School of Journalism.
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