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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona hockey’s weekend sweep of Illinois a first in three seasons

Michael+Bojda+The+Daily+Illini%0A%0ACaptain+Austin+Bostock+%2822%29+battles+for+the+puck+with+Arizonas+Bryan+Drazner+%2818%29+during+Saturday+nights+game+at+the+Ice+Arena.+
Michael Bojda The Daily Illini Captain Austin Bostock (22) battles for the puck with Arizona’s Bryan Drazner (18) during Saturday night’s game at the Ice Arena.

The Arizona hockey team’s weekend sweep of No. 11 Illinois was significant not only for the effect it will likely have on the rankings, but also because it was the first time in three seasons the Wildcats swept a Division I team.

Arizona’s last sweep of a Division I team was Feb. 2009 when the Wildcats beat ASU 4-3 in a shootout after winning 6-0 the night before.

“I think it shows that we’re headed in the right direction, not just playing games and winning one or losing one there,” team captain Brian Slugocki said. “This is only the beginning and I think it will be a good season if we can keep it up like we did last weekend.”

Arizona’s last sweep of a Division I adversary, that wasn’t ASU, was Jan. 20, 2007, when the Wildcats beat Scranton 6-0 after besting them 7-2 the night before.

Arizona’s last 2-0 weekend versus a ranked team on the road was in February 2006, when the No. 11 Wildcats beat No. 9 ASU 4-3 and then 5-2. The Saturday win was coach Leo Golembiewski’s 550th career victory.

“It’s an exciting thing for us,” head coach Sean Hogan said. “It’s definitely going to give us a boost in the rankings.”

UA’s lack of 2-0 weekends against Division I teams could be attributed to its Division II dominated schedules in years past.

“It was an opportunity that presented itself and everything fell into place,” assistant coach Dave Dougall said. “It’s a huge step. We played a lot of Division II programs over the past few years and we didn’t really have a schedule that was loaded like this one.”

Last season Arizona went 13-18-3 using a schedule from the previous coaching regime, but its record against Division I teams was only 4-16-1. The Wildcats did not sweep any Division I teams in the customary two game series, they did however beat No. 7 Oklahoma and then No. 6 Ohio in consecutive games.

In 2010-11, the final year for head coach Leo Golembiewski, the Wildcats went 14-13-2, but again their record for Division I teams was only 3-11-1.

Slugocki said he doesn’t necessarily think Arizona would have swept more Division I teams if it had had more chances under Golembiewski.

“We’ve had skill in the past, but we never had the coaching or the systems,” Slugocki said. “We did beat some teams in my freshman and sophomore years, but it was never sweeps of No. 11 teams in the country or anything like that.”

Arizona’s last winning record against Division I teams was in the 2007-08 season, when its record was 9-3-1 and it went 7-1 against ASU.

Dougall, who has coached Arizona for five years and played for the Wildcats in the 1980s, said he suspects the number of Division II games in the schedule depends on money. ASU is the only nearby Division I team, and Oklahoma is considered part of the Western region in ACHA Division I.

“[Golembiewski] had done it [scheduling Division I teams]for years, he used to back in the day, when the program was doing real well financially and everything,” Dougall said. “But as time progressed, that’s what ended up happening. You end up getting caught in this rut of playing the same teams every year in Division II, and they’re not helping your strength of schedule.”

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