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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona hockey team takes on ASU at home

As of late, the Duel in the Desert hasn’t translated well onto the ice for the Arizona hockey team.

The No. 20 Wildcats are currently on an 18-game winless streak against No. 3 ASU, including a 6-3 loss and a 3-2 shootout loss the first two games of this season. The upcoming series at the Tucson Convention Center won’t be easy. The Sun Devils will play the Wildcats at 7:30 on Friday and Saturday.

ASU has proven this season that it is one of the top teams in the country, assistant captain Brady Lefferts said. However, the Wildcats’ struggles against the Sun Devils haven’t shaken their confidence.

“We also feel like we are up there towards the top in the country,” Lefferts said. “And we think we can compete with anyone in this league.”

The team has shown clear signs of improvement under first-year head coach Sean Hogan. The UA is 3-3-1 against top-10 teams and has beaten two in its last two games: No. 6 Oklahoma in Oklahoma City and No. 5 Ohio at home.

“We’ve beaten high ranked teams and we know we can compete at a high level,” forward Blake Richards said. “It’s just coming out there for a full 60 minutes.”

However, while the Wildcats want to finally end the losing streak against their rival, Richards said the team isn’t focusing on the past.

“We feel like we have been given a fresh start here,” Richards said. “And we know we can play with them, and we proved that in the first week of the season.”

The team will use the first two games as practice tools, but they won’t offer any indication of how this series will turn out, Lefferts said.

“It’s going to be completely different this weekend … We’ve gotten a lot better, we’ve gotten a lot more sound on our systems, (and) I’m sure they’ve gotten a lot better too.”

Despite having a winless streak that spans more than two full seasons, rivalry games always seem to bring the competition closer.

There is nothing else like playing in a rivalry game, defenseman Jonathan Watanabe said.

“You get the adrenaline going, everyone is excited … We want to beat them more than anyone else.”

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