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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Hockey trio is key to turning around season

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The No. 19 Arizona hockey team is limping toward the playoffs right now — losing seven straight games and eight of its last nine — but if the Wildcats want to recover from their recent struggles, they will need the line of forwards Blake Richards, Brady Lefferts, and Andrew Murmes to pull them out of the slump.

“I think (the line has) been playing pretty well, but we can play better,” Lefferts said.

“The whole thing comes down to if we win or not. If we’re getting points and we’re not winning, we’re obviously not doing enough.”

The line has been a constant offensive force all season, producing more than 40 percent of the team’s goals and Murmes, Lefferts and Richards are also the top-three point scorers on the team with 48, 44 and 27 points, respectively.

Still, during the losing stretch, the team has struggled to put the puck in the back of the net. The Wildcats averaged slightly more than 2.5 goals per game during the nine-game stretch, almost two goals less than their season average of 4.3 goals per game.

But Lefferts said the real issue has been the timing of the goals, not the lack of scoring.

The Wildcats need to start scoring more in the first period so they can carry the momentum throughout the game, Lefferts said.

As a limping Murmes showed last weekend, the Murmes-Lefferts-Richards line is willing take the responsibility to carry the offensive burden, but they still need the rest of the team to contribute if Arizona is going to win the games.

“It’s our responsibility to go out there and score, but it’s not our responsibility to put up eight goals and win a game,” Murmes said. “We need everyone working — defense, goaltending, the other lines — to all contribute … That’s what’s going to enable us to be able to score and ultimately win the game.”

Murmes had three goals and one assist for Arizona in its 6-5 and 3-1 losses to No. 8 Minot State, but he skated the whole weekend on an injured hip and bruised leg which he suffered against Williston State College the day prior.

“It doesn’t matter how hurt you are — if I have a broken leg I don’t care, I want to be on the ice and help my team,” Murmes said.

Head coach Sean Hogan said the injured Wildcat played a heck of a weekend considering what he was going through, but Murmes said it’s just part of playing hockey.

“If you’re not hurt at this point in the season, then you’re doing something wrong,” he said.

Murmes success playing through injury is reminiscent of his season as a whole — he’s currently 16th in total points and 13th in assists in the ACHA Division I. However, he hasn’t been the only linemate to have a breakout season.

Lefferts has also had a big offensive season for Arizona, ranking 21st in goals in the ACHA, but more importantly, he’s been healthy all season.

Lefferts has played in 29 of 30 games, which is huge for the senior considering he only played 30 games combined the last two seasons after tearing shoulder ligaments his sophomore season.

The lines ability to stay on the ice all season — the three forwards have missed a combined two games all year — has resulted in an improved chemistry, something they’ll need to turn things around the last four games.

“It’s a lot of fun when you play with a line that has good chemistry were you know where each person is going to be” Lefferts said. “They are both very unselfish players so it’s a lot of fun playing with them.”

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