The No. 19 Arizona Wildcats hockey team remained .500 for the year after splitting a two-game series at No. 10 Liberty over the weekend. Arizona, now 3-3-0, came out hot on Friday, but Liberty answered back on Saturday to avoid being swept at home.
Friday night, Arizona won the game by a score of 5-1, which handed Liberty its first loss of the year. The Wildcats were in front pretty much the entire game, and even showed a little bit of swag showing off for the cameras during the game. The Liberty announcers started calling them out, and I think the Flames players themselves felt like they needed to take matters into their own hands heading into Saturday.
The Flames responded on Saturday by taking the game 5-2. The game was full of penalties, which is starting to become a trend for Arizona this year. Don't know if I'm a fan of this trend, since it did make them look vulnerable against NAU a couple of weeks ago, and certainly allowed ASU to dominate them last weekend.
Steven Sisler started both games in net for the Cats. He stopped 37 of 38 shots on Friday, but obviously did not do as well on Saturday when Liberty got five pucks in the net. I'm still thinking Dylan Hojnacki has the edge in net, but this week's three games in Oklahoma should show us which goalie has the most upside heading into the home schedule.
Andrew Murmes scored three goals on the weekend, including both Saturday goals. Mike Ferreira and Ansel Ivens-Anderson each picked up two goals of their own on Friday. A little concerning that all of the Wildcats' goals came from one line. That's exactly what was happening last year, so lack of depth may become a factor again when Arizona looks to make the national tournament at the end of the year.
Some good news though is that the team looked a lot faster than they did last year, and at least on Friday, were connecting on some cross-ice passes that never would have happened last season. And the Liberty announcers took note of that as well.
Arizona travels to Oklahoma City this upcoming week for three games against WCHL opponents. Thursday night they face No. 11 Central Oklahoma, and then the Cats faceoff against the No. 3 Oklahoma Sooners Friday and Saturday.