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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona hockey opens season against NAU

Forward+Tyler+Gebauer+%2813%29+brings+the+puck+around+the+bend+behind+the+goalee+on+Jan.+27.
Jordan Glenn

Forward Tyler Gebauer (13) brings the puck around the bend behind the goalee on Jan. 27.

The ice has been laid down, the lines have been painted and the skates have been sharpened. There’s only one thing left to do: drop the puck.

That’s what the Arizona hockey team will do Friday night as it kicks off the season against NAU.

NAU heads into Tucson for a two game set that will start both teams’ regular seasons.

Arizona will be ranked No. 21 in the American Collegiate Hockey Association Division 1 rankings when the puck drops Friday.

Coming off of a disappointing 2014-2015 season record of 11-22-3, head coach Chad Berman and the Wildcats are eager to get on the ice and face off against the Lumberjacks.

“It’s always fun to play in-state rivals. We’re looking forward to hitting somebody else for sure,” Berman said.

The head coach has also liked what he has seen from the team’s new recruits.

“They’re everything I hoped and more,” Berman said. “The work ethic has been good, the commitment has been good. Guys feel dialed in and I feel like we’re really out to prove something this year.”

The Wildcats fared well against the Lumberjacks last season, as they beat NAU in both of their meetings and outscored the IceJacks 12-5.

Berman is expecting NAU to play hard and give the Wildcats a battle for both games.

“I’m sure they’re coming in confident with high hopes. I’m sure they have high expectations for the season and just like us, they want to get off to a fast start,” Berman said.

An Achilles’ heel for the Wildcats last season was their defensive corps. Berman believes that the team’s defense will be much improved and a strength for the club.

A major reason for Berman’s optimism is the additions of Matthew Armenti and Nick Zellmer to the Wildcats roster. Armenti and Zellmer are both defensemen who transferred from Rhode Island.

Armenti is coming off of a productive 2014-2015 campaign where he tallied seven goals and 24 assists in 40 games and posted a +1 on-ice rating for the Rams. Zellmer collected 8 points, 4 goals and 4 assists last season.

Look to Brian “Toppie” Hogan to provide an offensive spark for UA this series. Hogan, a sophomore, 6-foot-4 200 pound forward will likely be a nuisance for the NAU goaltender this weekend. With his huge frame, Hogan will likely be hanging out around the net looking to screen defensemen’s shots and bang home rebounds.

“We’re excited about what he brings to us,” Berman said in regards to Hogan.

Junior goaltender Garrett Patrick will most likely be in between the pipes for the Wildcats this weekend. Patrick looked sharp in the final series of last season against ASU. He allowed seven goals but certainly held his own and put the Wildcats in a position to win in both games. That same ASU team is now a Division I recognized team.

The Wildcats face off against NAU on Friday and Saturday night at the Tucson Convention Center, both games start at 7:30 p.m.


Follow Seth Pines on Twitter.


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