The University of Arizona Wildcats has started another arduous pursuit of the cultivated National Title. Their primary odyssey comes in 16 parts; each one approached the same way. The team's proximity to Arizona State University means their paths frequently cross, which has long called an axiom as old as hockey itself. "The more you get to know your opponent, the less you come to like them." Over the next ten weeks their confrontations, around the league and with the long rivaled Arizona State will be an ongoing story under our distinctive microscope. The road is filled with ups and downs ending with a game here in Tucson that will cultivate a seasons worth of frustration and ambitions. In hockey, their spirits grow intimate with the pain and frustration, even as their will becomes ever more possessed by the ecstasy of victory. This is the road to the NCRHA Desert Duel, Arizona Wildcats vs. Arizona State Sundevils.
When you attend a school that has a rivalry dating back to in 1899 you are aware of the fact that you are stepping into a more significant story, one that started over a hundred years ago and that you are determining the next chapter. As an athlete for a school like the University of Arizona you are stepping into one of the longest rivalries ever to exist and are filling the shoes of those who came before you. The Arizona State vs. University of Arizona rivalry is one of the longest in football history. The Territorial Cup dates back 130 years and is credited as the oldest rivalry trophy in college football. “With the history of the University of Arizona you pinch yourself a little bit every time you throw on the jersey, I know everyone says that but its the truth. You walk around campus look up at the stadium and see some of the names hanging there and some of the great moments.” says freshman Ryan Miller. The University of Arizona was established in 1885 and has been ranked 32nd in U.S. schools according to The Center for World University Rankings. “It’s just a classic rivalry, Yankees vs. Red socks, Canadians vs. Bruins, Arizona vs. Arizona State. It is an easy game to get motivated for” says senior forward Cameron Kurz. Tributes to Arizona's continued athletic success are visible all over campus, constant reminders of expectations that never seem to descend.
110 Miles south of Tempe, The Wildcats Roller Hockey Team doesn’t date back as far as the Sun Devils’ program but has defined itself with its vigor and personal flavor. Since coming into existence in 2011, the Wildcats have been central characters in the saga of Arizona club sports. The team has reached nationals six of the last eight seasons, results that receive the highest of appreciations. “I think when you enter a season if your expectation isn’t to win a National Title than you have already sold your team short.” explains newly appointed president Alex Parrish, “The divisions that we play in have a lot of great hockey teams and I think we are one of them.” Parrish has undergone radical changes to the organization with the goal of re-shaping the team's image on the outside but also energizing players on the inside, attempting to remove the negative stigma that traditionally follows Roller hockey. His unique blend of passion and hard work had resulted in new facilities and equipment for the team, with locker-room renovations on the way. “Alex is a monster, a medium-sized monster” laughs rookie forward Ryan Miller, “He’s always in the gym and comes to every practice with the intensity you expect from a guy about to play in the Super Bowl. He pushes you to be your best on the rink, in the gym or the classroom and it motivates you.” The team has gone through a remarkable change this year on the bench as well, with some notable players graduating including star goalie Brett Bushnell. This change has left a small nucleus of familiar Wildcats such as newly appointed captain Jacob Toro, top goalscorer David Santos, and star forward Ben Jackson. This core is supported with an array of new faces, like senior, former Ice Cat, Tyler Gebauer, senior Trey Kerns, and the former Aspen leafs captain Taylor Knight. Surrounding them is a group of talented freshman including Matt Delseni, Ryan Miller, Adam Prumuka, Joey Misico and Aiden Evans.
Moving into the end of January both teams seasons started with success, placing them in the top of their division with, among others, the sun devils. This success however has come with setbacks, perhaps none larger than the loss of four games this season due to player ineligibility and the loss of the Division 2 goalie Kenny Eakle. Although many thought this was the end for the team, many players have come out of it with a positive attitude using it for motivation for the challenges ahead. The next matchup is February 2nd in Queen Creek with players increasingly on edge as we close in on the games.
In the midst of a series of losses the Wildcats sit in 5th place in Division 2 and 4th for Division 4, but they do so well aware of how much hockey is left to be played and how many questions are yet to be answered. Best laid plans have no place on the rink, it is part of what makes the game so difficult, and what makes success to invigorating.
This is The Road.
“The Road” Is a multi-part post following the University of Arizona Wildcats to the "Impact Environmental Desert Duel."
San Jose, Calif. – After a long 15-hour bus ride The Wildcats (DII), despite a few rough games, came out on top; returning early Monday morning in first place. The Wildcats, not new to playing on the road, fought hard resulting in three of their four games going to OT or a Shootout. Arizona beat Cal Poly (4-3 OT) and West Valley College (5-0) giving goalie Kenny Eakle his first shutout of the season. The Wildcats are confident that they can hold on to first place heading into the next set of away games in Huntington Beach, Californa. "Overtimes and Shootouts are hard on the players, especially after a long trip and a physical game. The legs get tight and your playing with nothing left in the tank, you can't blame anyone for those losses. We hope we can put them behind us and continue to play at a high level." Head coach Brett Bushnell said.
The Wildcats secondary team (DIV) also had a successful weekend resulting in first place. The Team played four games and captured a win in three of them. Despite Arizona's successful weekend, Freshman Ryan Miller commented on the UCSB loss saying " It can be rough driving so many hours and not getting to the hotel until 2 am, it can be even worse with a 7 am game the next morning. We hate to make excuses but it gets hard to pick up your feet and get motivated in those games, and we just weren't mentally there." Despite this loss, MIiller said that the guys were ready to go for Huntington Beach.
Kenny Eakle (DII) will continue to hold down the crease in Huntington Beach. Kenny, who has 1 shutout, a 2.31 GAA, 106 SVS and a .914 SPCT in four appearances, is currently leading the league in all of the mentioned stats. In 12 games last year with the Wildcats, Eakle was 7-4-1 with a 3.23 GAA, and .846 save percentage but due to eligibility reasons was not able to compete at Nationals in Fargo, ND.
The Arizona Wildcats released pictures of their new uniforms for the 2018-19 season this afternoon. The Wildcats had the design made by Grasshopper Gamwear out of California and are excited to be wearing the Washington Capitals inspired jerseys. The Wildcats uniform will also include brand new navy helmets that were generously donated by Impact Environmental of Long Island, New York.
The Arizona roller hockey program is excited to announce multiple facility upgrades, including access to the Smart Moves Studio in the Main Rec Center and access to the athletic trainers at Campus Health for the fall, 2018 season.
"These upgrades signal a new chapter for Arizona roller hockey," said Vice President Cameron Kurz. "We have worked to raise our standards as a program and our upgraded facilities will only further serve in helping us achieve these goals."
As a program, the Wildcats are continuing to push the bar forward. Arizona has competed at nationals for the last five years. The Wildcats also have two regional champioships under their belt and are looking for a third after last years loss in the final seconds against NAU.
The Arizona roller hockey program is well-positioned for success this coming season and hope to make another sucesful national run.
The Wildcats have announced tryouts for the 2018/19 season for September 3rd at the Tucson Indoor Sports Center from 8:30-10 pm but recommend arriving at 7:30 pm to fill out paperwork and equipment orders.
This season the NCRHA has gone through a divisional restructure resulting in significant changes around the league. Because of this restructure the Wildcats will have a primary Division II team and a secondary Division IV team. Per the NCRHA rules, we are no longer allowed to have a secondary team perform as a Division III team. The restructuring was to create a division for the teams that were struggling in D1 & D2 making Division I an elite group of organizations that always compete at nationals. The Division IV team is primarily playing teams from last year who were also previously Division III. The Cats are still expecting another national run with both of these teams this year and hopes to pull players routinely from Division IV to the Division II team.
Jacob Toro, David Santos, and Ben Jackson have been named captains for the 2018/19 NCRHA Season.
Jacob Toro has played for the Wildcats for the last 3 seasons and has been a top goal scorer for the Division II team.
David Santos was an influential player on the team for the last few seasons and has been noted as one of the best players in Division II with multiple MVP awards.
Ben Jackson, although considered a new face to the Wildcat locker room, was a game changer at the 2018 National tournament in Fargo, ND.
The trio has left a distinctive mark on the team this past season with a unique blend of skill, leadership, and dedication that carries over outside the rink. With the captains leading from the front, the Wildcats are gearing up to make another successful run at the national title this year.
The Wildcats are proud to announce that Brett Bushnell, former president and goaltender, will be returning as Head Coach of the team for the 2018/19 season! Brett has coached a number of teams in Arizona and will be a big addition to the team for the upcoming season!
The Wildcats are happy to announce our first freshman recruit for the 2018/19 season! Ryan Miller, Freshman from Anthem, AZ has been acquired from the O’ Connor Eagles! Welcome to the Wildcats Ryan!
The goal with the College Prospect Camp is to expose High School players to College Roller Hockey. While there are many options and outlets for ice hockey players, we want to create a high performance atmosphere for roller hockey players. Players will have the opportunity to work directly with College Coaches and the top instructors and players in our sport. In addition, players will stay on a college campus to truly get the full experience of being away from home. This years camp is for players with birth years 2000-2004 and runs June 14-17, 2018. We are very excited about this prospect camp and hope everyone who is interested will go come out! Find out more at