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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Wildcat hockey facing flu, injury bug heading into toughest weekend

Arizonas+Josh+Larson+reaches+for+the+puck+past+Central+Oklahomas+Simon+Hobbis+on+Thursday%2C+October+26%2C+in+the+Tucson+Convention+Center.
Simon Asher
Arizona’s Josh Larson reaches for the puck past Central Oklahoma’s Simon Hobbis on Thursday, October 26, in the Tucson Convention Center.

THE RUNDOWN 

After playing nearly all of January at home, Wildcat hockey will be on the road until their final home games of the season, Feb. 16 and 18 against ASU. 

Their first weekend away will be against Oklahoma and Central Oklahoma, from Jan. 25-27. Both of these teams came to the Tucson Convention Center earlier this year. Arizona went 2-0 against Oklahoma in their two game series, but fell by a score of 3-0 in their only game against Central Oklahoma. 

“UCO is the hardest place to win. We gotta beat Oklahoma first, that’s another tough one,” head coach Chad Berman said after a shortened practice on Monday. “Always one of the tougher trips. I’m not too concerned about us and our approach because I think they know how big of a weekend it is, more so just getting off the plane on a Thursday and playing in Oklahoma, so that would be my concern, health and travel.” 

INJURIES 

Despite going 5-1-1 since coming back from break, the way games have been won haven’t been in the prettiest and cleanest ways the Wildcats are used to. The inconsistency and, at times, poor play can be best explained by having depth players fill in for stars. The team will never play the exact same when missing key players – so it’s not too much to complain about and try to fix – but it says a lot about the depth of the team to have them winning when their lineup is not as expected. 

Here is a list of players missing and their estimated time of return, via coach Berman: 

  • Anthony Cusanelli, playing on Oklahoma trip 
  • Chris Westlund, out until ASU  (2/16)
  • Griffin Dyne, out until Grand Canyon  (2/10)
  • Trey Decker, questionable to go on Oklahoma trip 
  • Joey Trap, out until February

WHAT TO EXPECT 

Coach Berman understands it’s difficult to win all three games in a weekend, especially in a place with competition as tough as Oklahoma. That being said, his expectations heading in are to win two out of the three. 

Given leading scorer Anthony Cusanelli is set to come back from a lower-body injury, this expectation isn’t that wild. If something arises and he cannot play come game time, keep in mind Arizona defeated a difficult Milwaukee School of Engineering twice with him out of the lineup. 

This weekend will be the biggest hint as to how the team will do in the National Tournament starting in March, given the heavy competition and the factor of being away from home, so expect a tough, close matchup in every game. 


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