A two-day road trip awaits the WVU club hockey team this weekend as it prepares for matchups against Canisius and Mercyhurst.
“This has been a great week of practice,” said WVU head coach AJ Sturges. “I can see guys improving out there.”
The Mountaineers are coming off an impressive victory against conference foe Slippery Rock last Saturday and will look continue its momentum this weekend with the hopes of putting together their first winning streak of the season.
Canisius comes into Friday’s game with an 8-9 record and one shootout loss. The Golden Griffins defeated split two games with WVU last season and return their top two scorers in forwards Patrick Hurtubise and Ryan Logar. Both players currently rank in the top five of the ACHA in scoring.
Following Friday night’s game against Canisius, WVU will travel to Erie, PA for a rematch with Mercyhurst, who defeated the Mountaineers 5-1 last month in Morgantown. The Lakers currently stand in third place in the College Hockey Mid-America conference.
“Both teams this weekend are very good,” Sturges said. “They have quality scorers who can put the puck away, and have proven that they can beat top ACHA (American Collegiate Hockey Association) teams.”
Sturges is looking for his team to generate quality scoring chances as well as improve its team defense, which is something the Mountaineers were successful with against Slippery Rock.
“We were able to be successful against Slippery Rock by maintaining offensive pressure and keeping their five players in the defensive zone,” Sturges said. “We also did a great job of winning battles on the back check and pressuring the puck carrier. All things I hope to continue to see this weekend.”
WVU’s ability to remain disciplined and to capitalize on chances will also be a major factor in deciding each game this weekend according to Sturges.
The Mountaineers are going to take it one game at a time this weekend but have an idea what to expect from both Canisius and Mercyhurst.
“We are primarily focused on Canisius right now,” Sturges said. “They have a similar roster to last year, which helps us understand the type of team we will likely face. Having played Mercyhurst once already, we are aware of some adjustments to make when we face them in Erie.”
With a healthy team and plenty of experience playing on the road, the Mountaineers are looking to compete at a high level this weekend and rack up two more victories before heading into a two-week break.
“We are fortunate to have a healthy roster which keeps everyone involved and makes us more competitive,” Sturges said. “We have two overnight trips under our belt already this year, so I am confident in the group’s ability to play well on the road this weekend.”
WVU’s matchup against Canisius in Buffalo, NY will begin at 8:50 p.m. Friday and Saturday’s game against Mercyhurst starts at 7 p.m. in Erie, PA.