The Arizona Wildcats got off to decent starts in both games, including one goal leads early in the second period both nights, but the Arizona St. Sun Devils are too deep, and won both games by scores of 7-4 and 13-2.
The Cats looked good on Friday, even with Ansel Ivens-Anderson playing maybe three total shifts, and Andrew Murmes not playing at all. ASU's speed and puck handling skills were just too much at times. Garrett Patrick played well in between the pipes, stopping 37 of 44 shots. The defense was just unable to stop ASU from getting to the net.
Arizona got out to an early 3-1 lead, and had a chance to go up 4-1 when ASU goalie Joe D'Elia wandered away from the net. But an ASU defenseman stopped the shot on the open net, and a few moments later, ASU scored a goal to make it 3-2.
Late in the first period, Faiz Khan was brought down on a breakaway, and tied the game up on the ensuing penalty shot to make it 3-3 heading into the first intermission.
The second period started with a section of glass breaking, delaying the game for 10-15 minutes. Robbie Wilkinson scored right after the game resumed, his second of the night, but that would be Arizona's last goal.
ASU responded with an unreal diving goal on a cross-ice pass to tie it up, and dominated the puck the rest of the game. Two early third period goals made it 7-4, and they coasted from there.
Once again, Arizona got out to an early lead, but a late first period goal by ASU sent the teams into the locker room tied up at one.
The Wildcats got an early second period goal, but that would end their scoring for the night...again. This time though, ASU scored a lot more than four goals.
The Sun Devils finished the game with 12 unanswered goals....12. Steven Sisler started the game in net for the Wildcats, and was pulled halfway through the second period after surrendering his seventh goal of the night. Patrick took over the goaltending duties, but gave up six more goals on just 13 shots. Sisler gave up his seven on 27 shots.
Stupid penalties marred the game, as expected when ASU is beating the hell out of UA. Arizona was shorthanded for just about half of the second and third periods, leading to six of ASU's 13 goals.
As mentioned, Andrew Murmes did not play, and Ansel Ivens-Anderson was extremely limited on Friday, and did not dress Saturday from what I hear from people who were at the Saturday game. Arizona has four weeks off now before their next game, so this break could not come at a bigger time.
This team will not win games without Murmes and Ivens-Anderson. Wilkinson, as well as Alex O'Dea and Michael Ferreira are much better than they were last year, but it's not enough to survive in this especially tough WCHL, which has five of its six teams in the ACHA rankings.
If anything, ASU going 23-0-0 so far while splitting time almost equally between their two goalies shows that you don't need to settle on one guy. Arizona just needs to ride the hot hand. Luckily Patrick and Sisler have the next four weeks to regroup as well, and take some time to focus on some fundamentals.
Here's a look at the updated WCHL standings after a busy weekend in the league. Every team has played eight league games now. 3 points for a regulation win, 2 points for an OT win, 1 point for an OT loss, and 0 points for a regulation loss.
Arizona does not play again until January 3rd and 4th, when York University (Canada) comes to Tucson for two games at TCC. After that, a huge three-game weekend with Oklahoma on Thursday and Central Oklahoma Friday and Saturday. All games start at 7:30 PM local time.