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Wildcat hockey's 2017-18 standouts By Rachel Huston

The Arizona hockey season is nearly over with only three more games left in the regular season — one away and two home.

The best forward, defenseman and goaltender on the team have proved themselves through the season with different styles of play. Here are the top players of each category for the 2017–18 hockey team, based on their stats and quality of play:

Forward: Anthony Cusanelli

When picking a standout, it’s not always about who has the most points. Still, Cusanelli’s points are hard to ignore.

Through 26 games, he’s registered 49 points (31 goals, 18 assists). That’s good for 1.8 points per game, with a majority of those points coming from goals. And while it’s great that he can score a large amount of goals, the types of goals he scores demonstrate a high level of skill at his position.

Graph via tableau public (https://public.tableau.com/profile/rachel.huston#!/vizhome/AnthonyCusanellisgoalbreakdownbasedongamescore/Sheet1)

Based on the graph, he scores most of his goals when the Wildcats are tied in the game, meaning most of his goals are the go-ahead goal. Even more, he’s tied for first in the American Collegiate Hockey Association with five game-winning goals.

Not only is he scoring, but he’s scoring in some of the most pressure-packed times, which gives him the edge as the team’s top forward right now.

Defenseman: Sean Ozment

Ozment isn’t leading defensemen in points — with 21 he’s behind Manny Rowe by one point — but his point totals are a lot more shocking for him than they are for Rowe.

Ozment is a textbook definition of a “stay-at-home defenseman.” He doesn’t take too many chances offensively, hardly pinches, is always the first one back and plays on the penalty kill line. Something that separates him from the bunch is that he also plays on the power play, where he’s been a major factor.

A large fault on Arizona’s power play is the lack of a heavy slapshot from the point. Orion Olsen could provide this, but leans mostly on his wrister, as does Rowe.

But then there's Ozment.

He’s a player that, on paper, wouldn’t be anywhere near the power play, but he owns it. The forwards crash the net and pick up the rebounds or tip the initial slapper from the point — and it’s gone in plenty of times.

It’s his versatility that makes him the No. 1 defenseman of the season. His point totals are showing it, but it’s his ability to be a shutdown defender and also be a staple on the power play that stands out most.

Goaltender: Anthony Ciurro

UA head coach Chad Berman spoke volumes about the quality of his freshman goaltending between Anthony Ciurro and Nolan Bivolcic.

Ciurro has gotten more starts than Bivolcic this season, so he claims the spot as the standout goaltender.

Ciurro’s stats are not only the best out of the two freshman, but better than senior Austin Wilson’s.

As it stands, his record is 8-2, goals against average of 2.82 and a save percentage of .908. He’s also the only one to register a shutout on the season — and he has not one, but two of those.

Ciurro’s wins and stats haven’t come against easy opponents.

At the start of the season, Wilson was leaned on in larger contests, but as the season rolled along it became apparent the coaching staff no longer had to do that. Ciurro was good enough to earn the start against top teams, and he has been up to the task.

Photo Credit

Title photo by Simon Asher of the Daily Wildcat

Cusanelli photo by Simon Asher of the Daily Wildcat

Ozment photo courtesy of Chris Hook

Ciurro photo by Simon Asher of the Daily Wildcat

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