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Arizona hockey: Wildcats dominate Arizona State but need overtime to pick up nail-biting victory

It was a sweet victory on a Friday night

The entire Arizona bench piles on top of forward Toppie Hogan after his game-winning goal in overtime
Rachel Huston

You don’t know the definition of ‘rivalry’ until you step inside the TCC on a Friday night for a game between the University of Arizona and Arizona State.

There’s nothing quite like a sea of red collectively cheering for an ACHA team in downtown Tucson. And to add to the scene, jerseys that both the Wildcats and Sun Devils adorned made the game look like a heated battle between the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens - as did their competitive play on the ice.

In a game that took OT for the Wildcats to obtain their 5-4 victory, there was plenty of physicality at all times; there were heavy hits along the boards and grabbing at cages after whistles.

Freshman Hunter Stavroff even laid on a hit so heavy that it shattered the glass near the home penalty box, which was truly a sight to see. Their physical dominance and presence on the ice was a key to their victory. The Wildcats were hustling on every part of the ice and winning battles along the boards. There were turnovers on the part of Arizona, but they did not give up on the play when it happened. The entire game the Wildcats just looked like the better team, and the scoreboard wound up agreeing in the end.

Arizona’s Jason Zaleski opened the scoring in the first period and Stavroff added to it soon after with his first goal of the season, which was complemented by a fist-pump celebration. The Wildcats’ two-goal lead stood until midway into the second period.

The rivals continued to trade goals through the next two periods. Trey Kerns and Kyle Fargesen found twine in the second and third periods, respectively, to put Arizona ahead 4-3. But Arizona State scored with 1:45 left in the 3rd period to force overtime with the score tied up at four.

However, it was less than two minutes into overtime when the Wildcats’ leading scorer, Toppie Hogan, slipped one past Arizona State’s goaltender to secure the win. Hogan toppled to the ice after his goal and his exuberant teammates flew off the bench to pile on top of him to congratulate the senior. After the game, Hogan rose to second in ACHA scoring with 62 points on the season.

Arizona concludes its time at Tucson Arena this season with the final home game against Arizona State Saturday night at 7:30 pm. A sweep against the in-state rival is vital to the club if they wish to play in the National Tournament in Columbus, Ohio this March. It will certainly be an emotional night for the boys as they honor their graduating seniors.