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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona hockey defeats Western Michigan in first game of ACHA Men’s Division I tournament

Darien Bakas
Arizona State goalie Robert Levin blocks Arizona forward Roy Grandov’s shot during the Wildcats’ 6-0 loss to the Sun Devils on Friday, Feb 19. The Wildcats won their opening round game of the men’s ACHA tournament.

There was no lack of excitement from the Arizona hockey team’s first game in the American Collegiate Hockey Association Men’s Division I tournament on Thursday afternoon.

The No. 16-seed Wildcats faced off against the No. 17-seed Western Michigan University Stallions in what would prove to be one of the most thrilling games on the first day of the tournament at Robert Morris University Illinois.

Arizona quickly found itself in a hole in the first period as the Stallions scored twice three minutes into the first period.

The Wildcats’ Kyle Griffin responded 18 seconds after WMU’s second tally with a goal of his own, bringing Arizona within one. Arizona’s Matthew Armenti would score a crucial power-play goal minutes after to knot things up 2-2 as the high scoring opening period drew to a close.

The second period began just as the first, with Arizona allowing an early goal two minutes into the middle frame. A minute and twenty seconds after WMU’s third strike, Arizona’s Brian “Toppie” Hogan scored on the power-play to bring the game even once again at 3-3.

Just 42 seconds after Hogan’s goal, Western Michigan found the back of the net and took a brief lead before the Wildcats’ Ryan Cigile deposited a goal to tie things at 4-4.

The middle period could have been compared to a heavyweight bout between two prizefighters. Each time the Wildcats were knocked down, they got back up and delivered a punch.

The third period remained scoreless for both teams and overtime was needed to decide a winner in this high-scoring affair.

Arizona started off the sudden-death round by pinning WMU deep into its own zone as it executed its four-man cycle. A minute into overtime, Arizona captain Dylan Carter passed down low to Hogan, who was camped out behind WMU’s net. Hogan found his brother, John Hogan, in the slot and fired a wrist shot past the Stallions goaltender to give the Wildcats a dramatic 5-4 win in overtime.

Arizona goaltender Austin Wilson steered away 36 shots as the Wildcats overcame three separate deficits to push themselves into the round of 16.

The Wildcats will take on familiar foe, Minot State University, tomorrow afternoon. Arizona lost to MSU four times this season, each game falling by one goal.

Minot State is the top-ranked team in the tournament, as it carries a 32-2-2 record into tomorrow’s game.

The Wildcats play Minot State tomorrow at Robert Morris University Illinois, with puck drop scheduled for 4 p.m. Streaming information for the game can be found on the ACHA website.

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