Arizona vs. Arizona State hockey - Jason Bartel
Arizona struggled to get an offensive zone possession in Game 2 against the Sun Devils, falling 5-1.
Just as it happened on Friday when the Arizona hockey team built a 3-0 lead only to lose it, the Wildcats came out firing against ASU on Saturday, scoring the first goal of the game.
But Arizona State locked them down after that, dominating the game the rest of the way en route to a 5-1 victory in Tempe. Kale Dolinski scored two goals for the Sun Devils, giving him four on the weekend as ASU extended their unbeaten streak against the Wildcats to 30.
Andrew Murmes was ready to play on Saturday. He came out and put the Cats up 1-0 on a power play goal at 12:33 in the first period. But ASU responded by netting two goals before the first intermission, giving them the 2-1 edge heading into the locker rooms.
The second period is when Arizona State took the game over. Dolinski put the Devils up 3-1 early in the period with his first goal of the game, and Faiz Khan added another to put ASU up 4-1 after two periods. UofA barely ever had the puck in the offensive zone, and ASU took advantage, taking 16 shots in the period compared to the Wildcats' 6.
The final period was just ASU killing time and the Cats taking out their frustrations. Dolinski put in his fourth goal of the two-game series, giving the Sun Devils the 5-1 win.
After Friday's heartbreaker, it's possible Arizona was just deflated emotionally and could never get anything rolling offensively on Saturday. Coach Hogan said after the game that "We didn't play that poorly" and that "we are playing a very, very good hockey club" and "we played well."
"There are many things we need to correct going forward," to be able to advance to the national tournament and beat ASU in the future, Hogan said. "We'll get em at home."
He did talk about how they went over handling adversity, and how they continue to improve. In past seasons, this Arizona team would have gotten blown out by double digits in a game like this, and now they're at the point where they are competing against the top teams in the country.
"We're exponentially better than we were last year," Hogan said.
Right after the game, Hogan and Murmes had a very passionate conversation outside of the locker room. Hogan told me that he's frustrated and that they're "sick of losing to these guys."
Looking forward to next week's games at Minot State, Hogan and the Wildcats are ready to take the next step and lock up a spot in this year's ACHA tournament. Arizona played Minot in Tucson earlier in the year, losing 6-2 and 5-3. Hogan calls them "A very physical team....enormous." So forechecking and getting the puck moving will help this Arizona team find success in North Dakota this week. They do play a game on Thursday at Williston State before taking on Minot Friday and Saturday. Williston is not in the same division, so it doesn't matter too much, but the game does go on the season record, which now stands at 15-17-1 for Arizona. It also affects the team's travel and rest schedule. They're leaving Tucson very early Thursday morning and play Thursday night. The Minot games are the last ones before the tournament field is announced, making them the most important for Arizona hockey since 2006.
Forward Colin Hekle said that he has a grade 1 separated shoulder following the hit he took on Friday night and will be out 2-4 weeks, putting his status for the two games in Tucson on Feb. 22 and 23 in question.
Thursday, February 7th at Williston State (Agri Sports Complex, Williston, ND)
Friday, February 8th at No. 3 Minot State (All Seasons Arena, Minot, ND) 6:30 PM AZ Time
Saturday, February 9th at No. 3 Minot State (All Seasons Arena, Minot, ND) 6:30 PM AZ Time
Friday, February 22nd vs. No. 2 Arizona State (Tucson Convention Center) 7:30 PM
Saturday, February 23rd vs. No. 2 Arizona State (Tucson Convention Center) 7:30 PM
Make sure to take advantage of the buy 2, get 1 free ticket deal for the Arizona State games in Tucson and fill the TCC!