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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona hockey notes: Watanabe returns, Alumni Weekend approaches

Briana Sanchez
Briana Sanchez / Arizona Daily Wildcat UA hockey team goes up against Eastern Michigan University October 27, 2012 with a final score of 5-3.

Former Wildcat hockey star Jonathan Watanabe has returned to the program as an assistant coach.

Watanabe, who played for Arizona 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons, rejoined the program after an unsuccessful tryout for the Evansville IceMen of the East Coast Hockey League, the AA affiliate of the St. Louis Blues.

“It’s all about giving back,” Watanabe said. “The game’s given me so much.”

Watanabe began coaching last week at practice and then scouted No. 20 Eastern Michigan in the stands during the games for the Wildcats with the team statistician.

“He’s doing a good job for us,” head coach Sean Hogan said. “He’s still in school, he wants to be involved with the program, the guys really respect him.

“He has a brief pro experience, which is something that he can help talk to the guys about, kind of what it will take to compete at that level.”

The shift has been an adjustment for Watanabe, but his transition should help the team greatly.

“It’s definitely different being on the bench rather than on the ice,” Watanabe added. “But I feel like I can help the boys out and hopefully through my experiences and hopefully some of them can get farther than I did.”

Hockey homecoming weekend

Hosting No. 2 ASU isn’t the only event this weekend for No. 17 Arizona.

It will be Arizona Hockey Alumni Weekend. There will be a golf outing Friday at 10 a.m., a white out Saturday night and an alumni game Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m.

“It’s going to be an exciting weekend for us, bringing guys back that were involved with the program,” Hogan said. “We have alumni that are excited to come back, too.”

A ticket for Saturday’s ASU game is also good for the alumni game.

Hogan said he’s expecting 60 to 70 alumni for the game, but it could be more.

“We’re hoping for a hundred, because some guys just randomly show up, you know?” Hogan said.

The event will mix former Icecat players with former Wildcats from last season, Hogan’s first, when the team was rebranded.

“It’ll be really exciting to see these guys, and they are excited about the change in the program and the direction of the program,” Hogan said.

It will be a shortened game, with 15-minute stop time periods and no Zamboni cuts.

“It’s kind of a shortened version of a hockey game, so nobody dies,” Hogan said.

Computers high on UA

Arizona is No. 15 and No. 11 in the first computer polls released by the ACHA, owing to their strong strength of schedule.

The first poll, where Arizona is 15, takes the margin of victory into account, up to seven goals. The second one does not.

In the human poll, Arizona is No. 17, its highest ranking since December 2006. Playoff spots are not decided by the computers.

Powerless power plays

After going 2-for-15 on power plays last weekend against Eastern Michigan, the Wildcats are tying to fix the problem.

Hogan promised more exciting hockey this weekend and said Monday’s practice was better than the “lethargic” Saturday and Sunday first home series.

“We’re hoping to play much better than we did this last weekend, a more exciting brand of hockey,” Hogan said. “We talked about it, that’s kind of the message [Monday].”

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