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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona hockey shuts out NAU 4-0

Arizona+hockey+head+coach+Chad+Berman+skates+during+a+practice+open+to+fans+on+Thursday%2C+Oct.+23%2C+2014.+Berman+coached+Arizona+to+two+opening+weekend+victories+over+NAU.+
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Arizona hockey head coach Chad Berman skates during a practice open to fans on Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014. Berman coached Arizona to two opening weekend victories over NAU.

Execute the system. That is what Arizona Wildcat hockey coach Chad Berman preached to his team in the week leading up to its first two games. The team listened and responded with two wins over the Northern Arizona University IceJacks to start its season. 

The Wildcats dropped the puck against NAU on Friday night in front of a packed and rowdy crowd at the Tucson Convention Center.
John Hogan opened up the scoring for the Wildcats as he fired a shot above the right circle that easily beat NAU goaltender Seth Kollman. Defenseman Bryan Drazner then let go a hard slap shot from the blue line to give Arizona a 2-0 lead heading into the second period. 

After Drazner’s goal, things got increasingly heated between both teams as several scrums ensued following stoppages in play. NAU, a Division II team in the ACHA, showed it was not willing to back down from the Wildcats. 

In the middle of all the tussling was Arizona’s Jake Crow (25). The Toronto, Ontario, native supplied big hits all night long and easily caught the attention of NAU.

“When you get a bunch of competitive guys on the ice like this, you’ll find a lot that these scrums happen,” Crow said. 

The post-whistle activity certainly energized the crowd at the TCC but diverted the Wildcats’ focus as they squandered a 3-1 lead late in to the third period. 

With 4:53 left in the third period, Arizona’s Kyle Griffin played hero as he skated unopposed into the NAU zone and fired a wrist shot above the right circle that knocked off Kollman’s pad and found its way to the back of the net. 

The Wildcats would hold on to capture their first win as junior goaltender Garrett Patrick held down the fort in the final minutes.
Berman wasn’t pleased with the team’s overall effort in its first contest of the season. He said he thought the team played sloppily after its quick start, played to the crowd by engaging NAU in post-whistle altercations and did not execute its system of back-checking and transition. 

In game two of the series, sophomore back-up goaltender Austin Wilson got the start for the Wildcats to gain preparation for UA’s upcoming games at Oklahoma and Central Oklahoma where he will most likely play.

The Wildcats got off to a quick start again as sophomore Roy Grandov deflected a wrist shot from defenseman Nick Zellmer past the NAU goaltender. Grandov then gave UA a 2-0 cushion as he banged home a rebound from a Drazner slap shot. 

Both of Grandov’s goals were recorded on the power-play.

UA coasted the rest of the way as they bundled up NAU in the neutral zone for the night, giving the IceJacks very few offensive opportunities. 

Alex O’dea and Sean Gruenhagen deposited a goal each for the Wildcats in the second period, which gave them a 4-0 lead they would not relinquish, as Austin Wilson would post the first shutout of the season for UA. 

Berman was much more satisfied with the team’s performance in the second game. 

“We were much more effective on the fore-check; we were much better in the neutral zone and our defensive zone coverage,” Berman said. “It was the details that made the difference for us tonight.”

The Wildcats play next on Saturday as they head up Interstate-10 to play the new ASU Division I team at Gila River Arena, the NHL home of the Arizona Coyotes. 

Coming from Canada, playing in an NHL rink has always been a dream for Crow, and he is ready to give the Sun Devils a run for their money. 

“It’s been our focus since training camp to make that a tough night for [ASU] and make that a terrible coming out party for them,” Crow said.

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