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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Wildcats shutout, learn valuable lessons in tough contest

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The Arizona Wildcats fell to the Central Oklahoma Bronchos 0-3 on Thursday night, October 26. 

It was one of the Arizona hockey’s best contests of the season, though it ended in a 3-0 loss.

For just over 40 minutes it was a scoreless tie – a goaltender’s dream. Both goalies were solid. University of Central Oklahoma’s Alex Henry would get the shutout and Austin Wilson, despite taking the loss, posted a .946 save percentage with 35 saves on 37 shots.

It was in the final frame, just 2:45 into the period, Bayley Marshall scored what would be the game-winning goal for UCO. It was a forehand shelf that is a hard save for any goaltender. Arizona’s Austin Wilson dropped into the butterfly and while he covered the bottom of the net, Marshall lifted the puck just over Wilson’s right shoulder. Gage Joel would add on to the score just under ten minutes later, and Landon Robin got the final tally in an empty net.

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While the game didn’t end in a win for Arizona, it wasn’t all bad. As head coach Chad Berman said in an on-ice interview after the game that there were a lot of positives and lessons the team could learn from their meeting with a No. 5 ranked team.

Shots were something Arizona had struggled on in their roadtrip to Colorado last weekend. In all three games they played, Arizona was outshot. In what is arguably one of their biggest games of the season, they outshot UCO 45 to 37.

A handful of those shots came on the power play. UCO had a total of 22 penalty minutes on the night and were consistently trying to stir the pot with an Arizona bunch that was trying to stay away from the chippy side of things.

But unfortunately for Arizona, none of those shots on the power play turned into goals. Their power play was flat, and they haven’t been that way all season, so it certainly was a change and it wound up swinging the game in Central Oklahoma’s favor.

“I don’t think we’re moving the puck quick enough… we’re giving the PK [penalty kill] a night off, they don’t even have to work that hard against us because we’re not making them move,” Berman said. 

While the team lacked with a man advantage, they seemed to be trying to pick up the pace by playing more of a speedy, passing game. It was no longer about grinding and getting pucks on the forecheck, but instead stretch passes and dancing past defenders. Both Trey Decker and Anthony Cusanelli put their handles on display as they both swerved in and out of traffic. And these tactics were well-executed and kept the game even for forty minutes, but cost them the win.

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“You cannot look for the pass to win this game, it’s gotta be short passes… puck support wasn’t good enough and that’s why you’re seeing the stretch passes,” Berman said.

Berman also praised senior Roy Grandov for his play and specifically being the leading shot blocker. Grandov is a player to look for in the game against Oklahoma during both early 2 p.m. starts on Friday and Saturday.

Grandov noted the importance of having all the skaters out there ready to go, ready to play the game they know and they are successful at. 

Oklahoma is currently 2-8 on the season, which will be quite the change for the Wildcats after playing Central Oklahoma who, before the contest against Arizona, held a 8-1 record.

Puck drops at 2 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 27 and Saturday, Oct. 28 at the Tucson Convention Center.


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