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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona hockey plays ASU’s D1 team for final time

Darien Bakas
Arizona defenseman Matthew Armenti (3) hits the puck past an Arizona State player on Friday, Feb. 19 in the Tucson Convention Center Arena. The Wildcats dropped two games against the Sun Devils over the weekend, the final time the UA will face the division one ASU team.

The Arizona hockey team had one last order of business to tend to before shifting their focus to the national tournament.

The Wildcats arch rival, ASU, made the trip down Interstate 10 to Tucson to play Arizona in their last home series of the regular season this past weekend.

Friday night’s contest slated the Wildcats against ASU’s Division I team for their last ever meeting before the Sun Devils enter a full NCAA schedule next season.

“It’s bittersweet because I’ve been a part of this rivalry for 20 years,” said Greg Powers, head coach of the Sun Devils. “I’m going to miss it tremendously.”

The Sun Devils jumped on the Wildcats early in the first period as Ryan Ostertag deposited a goal 4:09 into the first period that was followed by a tally from ASU’s Jake Clifford 11 minutes after.

The star of the game was the Sun Devils Joe Lappin who recorded a hat trick that as he scored while on the power play, shorthanded and at even strength.

ASU’s goaltender Robert Levin, who tore his ACL when he last played in Tucson a year prior, turned away 18 shots as the Sun Devils cruised to a 6-0 victory over Arizona.

Despite the lopsided score, the Wildcats played a much more competitive game than their last meeting in October which ASU won 8-1.

“It’s a little bit of an improvement but I honestly thought we actually played a really good game,” said UA forward Robbie Wilkinson. “They had a couple nice goals that any goalie is going to have an issue stopping some of those really nice shots.”

Saturday night’s game featured Arizona State’s Division II Elite team who Arizona had lost to four times earlier in the season.

The Wildcats brought the fans to their feet early in the first period as defenseman Matthew Armenti beat ASU’s goaltender with a wrist shot from the slot to give Arizona an early edge.

ASU stormed back in the second period as they scored twice on Arizona goaltender Austin Wilson and supplied continuous pressure in the neutral zone clogging up the Wildcats passing lanes.

Arizona wasn’t able to generate any more offense in the third period as they allowed two more goals and closed their regular season with a 4-1 loss.

“It kind of always seems like they [ASU D2 Elite team] have our number,” said UA goaltender Austin Wilson. “A bounce here and there it could have gone the other way and it’s a closer game but we battled and it’s all you could ask for.”

Saturday night’s game was also senior night for the Wildcats lone senior, defenseman Bryan Drazner who has played for the team for three years.

Drazner, a native of Buffalo Grove, Ill. said the highlight of his career while playing for Arizona was Saturday night’s game that included a packed crowd at the Tucson Convention Center.

“Tonight was pretty special, I don’t know if it could be topped,” Drazner said. “Playing in front of 5,000 screaming people is pretty special.”

The next stop for the Wildcats is Bensenville, Ill. where they will play the Western Michigan Stallions in their first game of the ACHA Men’s Division I National Tournament on March 3 at 5 p.m.

Follow Seth Pines on Twitter.

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