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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Wildcats stats tell story in 3-2 loss to GCU

Ian Green
Arizona hockey players watch the game from the bench during the UA-CU game on Nov. 2 at Tucson Convention Center.

After a month off for the holidays, the Wildcat hockey team came back to the TCC out of shape and lost 3-2 to the division two Grand Canyon University Antelopes on Friday, Jan. 5.

The team was expected to be slightly rusty and shaky with suspensions and time off plaguing their roster. The roster was stripped of so many skaters that Orion Olsen, a top pair defender, played on Roy Grandov’s left wing. But those hurdles would be no excuse for being “off” for a night, especially not to the degree they were.

The ‘Cats looked bad on the ice. Passes weren’t being completed and skaters were slow. For a while in the game, the ‘Lopes were suffering from the same rust bug and couldn’t enter the zone cleanly without a dump or turning the puck over at the blue line. But into the second period, GCU corrected their mistakes – Arizona did not.

The effort from Arizona is best described by the fact that the team was stuck on the ice after the game to participate in what is called a “bag skate” in the hockey world. It’s usually a practice in which the coach has players participate in rigorous skating drills to wear them out and motivate them to perform at a higher level the next game.

Players were red-faced, exhausted, and dejected after leaving the ice and heading to the locker room to, what one can assume, was a heated talk from the coaches. A stick was heard slamming to the ground in the hallway, an echoing reminder of the frustration of the players and staff. Due to the emotions in the room, no press conference was held.

While in person, the Wildcats looked out of sorts, on paper, they had a chance.

Their fenwick, a stat that describes the percentage of the time a team has the puck based on shots, was 59 percent. A good fenwick is 50 percent – so they were, in theory, great. Arizona dominated in shot attempts (shots on goal and missed shots) with 51. GCU had just 35 shots. While their passing and opportunities looked horrible, the team likely should have come out on top in the contest when it comes to fenwick.

But then there’s PDO, a stat that measures how lucky a team is based on their shooting percentage as a team and their goalie’s save percentage. A 100 is average for luck, and where every team should be – anything higher is lucky and anything lower is unlucky. Arizona had a PDO of 92.7. In other words, they had no puck luck on their side.

It’s interesting to see these two stats conflict in the way they do, but they tell a story of what could have been. The Wildcats had a chance to win had more bounces gone their way or had GCU’s goalie been just out of position. It’s a deeper context into just chalking it up to “the Wildcats looked terrible”. Austin Wilson should have stopped more shots and Arizona should have scored on more shots.

They were outplayed, outworked, but there was a chance and they could have come out on top. The Wildcats will faceoff against the Antelopes again, Saturday, Jan. 6 at 2 p.m.

Follow Rachel Huston on Twitter 

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