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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Icecats return strong nucleus after reaching nationals last year

    Sophomore right wing Clay Desmond tries to gain control of the rebound after attempting a shot during yesterdays practice at Tucson Ice in the Gateway Center. Desmond and the Icecats begin their season tomorrow after going 21-13 last year, finishing No. 12
    Sophomore right wing Clay Desmond tries to gain control of the rebound after attempting a shot during yesterday’s practice at Tucson Ice in the Gateway Center. Desmond and the Icecats begin their season tomorrow after going 21-13 last year, finishing No. 12

    The Zambonis are out at the Tucson Convention Center, and that can only mean one thing: The No. 10 Arizona Icecats are gearing up for another season of hockey.

    When the Icecats open their 28th season this weekend, they will try to pick up where they left off last season after a disappointing overtime loss in the National Tournament following ranking No. 12 nationally and going 21-13.

    “”I was very proud of my team,”” Arizona head coach Leo Golembiewski said.

    In 2005, the Icecats considered their season one of “”reckoning,”” which was their motto for the year, as they bounced back from two straight sub-par seasons.

    “”There is a good nucleus of players returning this year,”” said Golembiewski, whose all-time record is an impressive 555-151-20.

    Both the team’s leading scorer, sophomore right wing Robbie Nowinski, and sophomore center Matt Conover, the 2005-2006 American Collegiate Hockey Association Rookie of the Year, are coming back, along with 13 other freshmen from last year.

    “”We’re seeing it in practice; a lot more guys are leading this year than last year,”” said center Craig Irwin, a junior co-captain. “”Last year the new guys were separated from the older guys, but everyone is coming together this year.””

    Irwin and junior right winger Scott Marshall will both be making their debut as captains this weekend in Las Vegas. The Icecats think the improved chemistry this year should translate to positive results on the ice.

    The Icecat defense will look to fill the gap left by its two captains from last year, defensemen D.J. Pelletier and Mike Pelletier, as the only two seniors on the team are defensemen Eric Kowalek and Evan Marro.

    Even with the loss of their captains, the defense has a number of returning players. In addition, this year’s team has much confidence in its goalies.

    “”We have the best goaltending tandem in the history of our program,”” Golembiewski said.

    Junior goalie Luke Edwall and sophomore goalie Nick Boddy will continue to rotate in tandem this year. Both players played well in a tandem rotation last year and are looking to continue the success the Icecats have had minding the net.

    Golembiewski said his dream of a good hockey team with American players has been realized and he has enjoyed continuing this tradition over the years. The Icecats have one national title and have finished second four times in 28 years.

    Last year the new guys were separated from the older guys, but everyone is coming together this year.
    – Craig Irwin, junior co-captain

    Another obstacle for the team to overcome this year is the rule change that will go into effect this season allowing no grabbing or shoving in the neutral zone. This change is very similar to the one the NHL made before last season in an effort to help speed up the game.

    The players will have to adjust early, as the referees will be closely looking for this during the course of the season.

    The Icecats will be starting on the road for three weekends before debuting at home on Nov. 3 against No. 8 ASU.

    “”We’ve been practicing for four weeks now,”” Marshall said. “”We’re all just excited and ready to play some games.””

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