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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Wildcat hockey must prove its depth to succeed

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Rachel Huston

The Arizona hockey team takes on Arizona State on Feb. 18, 2017 at the Tucson Convention Center. 

It’s not a new concept. Every championship hockey team out there, on every level, fulfills a set list of requirements before they are named champions. There’s unspoken rules of ways to win hockey, and they change every so often, but some remain true. 

One of those requirements, is depth scoring. Having one or two guys scoring big goals and having point totals well into the double digits is a key, but that’s not where all the scoring should come from.That is where Arizona has hit a roadblock. In their first two games at home to start of their season, the Wildcats saw nine different players scoring a total of 13 goals. In their past two games, the team had seven goals scored by just four players. Both their first two games were wins and their last two have been losses. The losses can be linked to the fact that Arizona’s top players are the ones producing the bulk of the points. And it’s not to say that players past their top line aren’t scoring – they’re just not scoring frequently enough. 

STAT BREAKDOWN 

Arizona has 16 players with goals this season. The undefeated Adrian College and University of Illinois have 17 and 16 players with goals respectively. What’s the difference? Both of the undefeated squads’ goals are spread more even throughout their lineup. Arizona’s average goals per player is 2.59, Adrian College’s is 2.94, and University of Illinois’ is 2.81.

This discrepancy is seen even more through points. Here are the previously mentioned stats, but adjusted for points for each college: Arizona: 20 with points, 5.2 average points per player, Adrian: 21 w/ points, 6.5 average points per player, Illinois: 20 with points, 6.05 average points per player.

Arizona has a considerably lower average number of points among players who have points. This is the most concerning of all stats previously mentioned. That means that all-over, less players are getting in on offense and capitalizing on opportunities. Not all offensive ability and contribution is measured through points, but the ones that end in goals are counted, and those count quite a bit.  

This is what has led to their demise in their recent contests, and will continue to burden them if they do not fix it.  Fixing this issue is more complex than identifying it. Getting new faces to play like old pals comes with time. Whether it’s through just gaining familiarity, new line combinations, or getting used to the ACHA, time will heal most of these wounds. But unfortunately, time isn’t always easy to find when a team is playing their toughest opponent early in the season. 

The defending National Champions, Central Oklahoma will be visiting Thursday night and the Cats will have to show up in a big way and get over these scoring slumps. A way the Cats can improve now is to get more shots on net. In their last five contests Arizona has outshot their opponent once, a 47 to 21 shot differential between them and University of Arkansas. 

More shots mean more scoring opportunities, and naturally that can lead to more goals. But it’s not just black and white and there’s no one way to fix this issue. Josh Larson and Anthony Cusanelli have been showing dominance on the ice thus far, and more players have the same potential – they just need to find the time and find their groove in their own way. This is one of the best, if not the best, class of recruits that has come to Arizona; it’s just a matter of them showing it on the scoreboard now. 

The Wildcats will face off against Central Oklahoma on Oct. 26 at 7:30 p.m. and Oklahoma on the Oct. 27 and 28, which are both early 2 p.m. starts. 


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