via The Daily Wildcat
The goal for the Arizona hockey team heading into its three-game set last weekend was to enter the national tournament discussion.
The Wildcats did just that, as it upset No. 7 Ohio University on Thursday night and split its weekend series against Midland University, all in the Tucson Convention Center.
For a struggling Wildcats team, an upset over a top-10 team is just what the doctor had ordered.
“It’s a big lift,” Arizona head coach Chad Berman said. “It validates what we’re doing is working.”
Arizona jumped out to an early lead Thursday night, as Anthony Rosetta pinched up into the offensive rush and tapped home a great pass from forward Brian “Toppie” Hogan.
The officials convened to discuss if the goal was to count because Ohio claimed the puck never went into the net, but nonetheless, they concluded it was a good goal.
Ohio would go on to tie the game in the second period, as the Bobcats’ Matthew Rudin tipped home a wrist shot to beat Arizona goaltender Austin Wilson.
Arizona was then given a power-play opportunity late in the second period off an Ohio holding penalty. The Wildcats made it count, when Brian Schehr found Toppie Hogan open in the slot and Hogan fired a wrist-shot that found the back of the net.
Ohio wouldn’t go away easily, as the team capitalized on the power-play drawing the game even heading into the final period.
Hogan, the most consistent goal scorer for the Wildcats this season, contributed one of the most memorable moments of Arizona’s season in the middle of the third period.
As the Wildcats were buzzing with multiple opportunities in the final frame, UA defenseman Matthew Armenti’s wrist shot hit off the side of an Ohio defender.
The puck trickled to Hogan’s stick blade, point blank in front of the net; he shot it, and buried the game-winning goal that guided Arizona to its biggest win of the season and an upset over the No. 7 team in the ACHA.
Austin Wilson also delivered his best performance of the season, as he posted a staggering 50 saves on 52 shot attempts, further making a case for himself as the team’s No. 1 goaltender.
For Toppie Hogan, this game was personal for him as it was against former Arizona coach, Sean Hogan, now currently the coach of Ohio.
Toppie Hogan said that Sean Hogan had told him and his brother John that they would not be able to play for him, as he only took a certain caliber of player while he was coaching at Arizona.
“[Sean Hogan] knowing that he cut me and I was able to put up three points against him, just individually, that was nice,” Toppie Hogan said. “But it all comes down to the team winning.”
Midland University—a fairly new but respected team in the ACHA-—came into the TCC on Friday night to take on the Wildcats.
The Wildcats’ success from the night prior eluded them as they squandered a 2-0 lead eventually falling by a score of 4-2 with lackluster defensive play in front of Wilson.
“We got a little bit complacent when we got that two-goal lead,” UA forward Robbie Wilkinson said. “[Midland] stuck in the game and they took advantage of their chances and came out on top.”
Junior goalie Garrett Patrick was tapped for the third and final game of the weekend Saturday against Midland.
Patrick played superb, as he stopped 28 of 29 shots and led the way for the Wildcats as they coasted to a 5-1 drubbing over Midland with goals coming from Bryan Drazner, Armenti, Toppie Hogan and a pair from Wilkinson.
For Arizona, this was the type of effort the team needed before hitting the road for three weeks to take on top teams in the ACHA, most notably ASU’s Division II team that swept the UA when they last played.
“[ASU] came in and embarrassed us in our house and we got to go up there and return the favor,” UA forward John Hogan said. “It’s going to be a hard couple of weeks, but we’re ready for it.”
Arizona plays ASU on Friday night at Oceanside Ice Arena with puck drop scheduled for 7:20 p.m.