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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Icecats’ big hits build intensity

Every major sport features that momentum-altering, game-changing play. In football, it’s the interception, and in basketball the slam dunk.

In hockey, although goals and assists are what show up in the box score, nothing shifts the momentum of a game more than a glass-rattling check into the boards.

“”The amount of energy that comes from people throwing their body around, there’s nothing like it,”” said Arizona Icecats senior defenseman Austin Capobianco. “”The momentum that it creates, the power that it creates, the intensity; it’s an awesome feeling.””

The Arizona Icecats (3-8) rarely experienced that feeling of intensity and power in their first three home games of the season.

Both Icecats head coach Leo Golembiewski and associate coach Dave Dougall expressed their displeasure with the way their team came out of the gates in their first few games at the Tucson Convention Center.

“”They know they have to be physical,”” Dougall said. “”We’ve been getting bounced around by teams and they know that they have to step it up. Do they want to lose every game or do they want to start competing?””

As Dougall pointed out, almost every opponent has knocked the Icecats around the ice so far this season. But in last Saturday’s 2-1 victory against the University of Colorado, the Icecats finally found that fire-starter they were looking for in the form of big hit after big hit after big hit.

“”Our team was hitting a lot this weekend, and it was definitely noticeable,”” said freshman goaltender Dave Herman. “”The entire bench was screaming; everyone was loving it.””

Colorado scored eight minutes into the first period, but a series of hits from sophomore Geordy Weed and Capobianco quickly changed the mindset of the players, coaches and opponents.

Although they have been more of a speed-oriented, finesse team so far this season, it was clear that the bruising hits the Icecats were inflicting changed the attitude of the team. They quickly went from a team hanging its head as if to say, “”Here we go again,”” to a highly motivated and determined group, optimistic about the next 50 minutes.

Not only was the team fired up, but the crowd quickly became electric.

“”To see the response that the crowd gives after a big hit is made, everybody wants that feeling,”” Capobianco said.

Those big hits, along with some terrific defense and goaltending, resulted in the team’s first home victory of the season. It was clear to the players and coaches how instrumental that physicality was in the Icecats’ win.

“”Hockey is a physical game, you’ve got to hit to get possession,”” Herman said. “”We had more possession of the puck, more scoring opportunities because we were playing the body. We definitely played a lot better when we were physical.””

Similar to the interception and the slam dunk, a pain-inflicting hit or a board-rattling check is hockey’s game-changer. And for an Icecats team that has struggled to come out of the gates with intensity, that physicality, at least last weekend, appeared to be the solution to that problem.

The Icecats may not always get a win when they throw their bodies around, but so far they are one-for-one. After reaping the benefits last weekend, that physicality is something the Icecats hope to see more of in the future.

“”I think putting a body on everybody needs to be a conscious effort,”” Dougall said.

Added Capobianco: “”We do have a big set of defenseman so it’s definitely something that we have to continue to improve on.””

 

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