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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Hockey can’t end streak

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For all intents and purposes, the Arizona hockey team’s season ended the same way it started — being swept on the road against ASU.

The No. 19 Wildcats again came up short against the No. 3 Sun Devils, losing 4-3 Friday and 10-3 Saturday at Oceanside Ice Arena in Tempe, Ariz., pushing their winless streak against ASU to 22 games and all but ending any hopes of making the playoffs.

“We’re going to try and approach every game like we are going to nationals, and until we’re told we’re not going to nationals, we aren’t going to accept anything less from our own team,” forward Blake Richards said.

A pair of one-goal losses to No. 13 Davenport at home last weekend nearly burst the Wildcat’s bubble, but they still had a chance to sneak in if they could manage to secure a win against the talented Sun Devils.

Instead, Arizona was unable to overcome the talent disparity, and the Wildcats’ once-promising season came to an emphatic end Saturday.

Even though nationals probably won’t happen, defender Jonathan Watanabe said the team is going to play every night like it’s a playoff game.

“We’re playing for our school, we’re playing for the new program,” Watanabe said. “We still need to come out every (night) and play as if something’s on the line because it is. We’re playing for respect, we’re playing for our school, we’re playing for pride.”

Arizona looked like it had its chance on Friday after a goal by assistant captain Brady Lefferts in the third period cut the Sun Devil’s lead to 4-3, but the comeback ultimately came up short and the team lost its third straight one-goal game.

The next game, on Saturday, the Wildcats had no chance.

After already giving up three goals in the first period, the floodgates opened as the Sun Devils scored five more in the second period, slamming the door shut on the Wildcats’ national tournament hopes.

After a few unlucky plays led to an early deficit, the team became mentally frustrated and lost composure, Watanabe said.

“It’s an emotional game, it always is against ASU, and I think we just got a little frustrated after they got a couple goals on us,” he said.

This loss makes the Wildcats 0-5-1 against the Sun Devils this season, and Arizona has been outscored 36-17 in the series. They still have one more shot at redemption against ASU, as they play them in the final series of the season at home.

“It’s always painful if you lose to a rival like ASU,” Lefferts said. “The first game we battled hard. With a loss like that, you kind of keep your head up. It’s a tough loss, but we played well, we played with them. But (Saturday), not a lot went right. … A loss like that’s really hard to take.”

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