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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Icecats getting ready for season

Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat
Gordon Bates
Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Arizona Icecats hockey has returned, but it will be more than a month before the team has a home game. The Icecats open the season on Sept. 30 at No. 9 Arizona State University for a two-game series. The next weekend the team will travel to Ohio for three games in the American Collegiate Hockey Association Showcase.

“”We start the year with seven games on the road, and the first five games will be all against ranked teams,”” Icecats head coach Leo Golembiewski said. “”UNLV is a real tough club, and we’re going to play them up in their barn.””

Arizona will finally return home to play Weber State for its Nov. 5 home opener.

Golembiewski said the team had less time to prepare for the season than others because of the lack of a practice facility, yet on the other hand, he feels playing at the Tucson Convention Center is a plus.

“”You’d like to have three or four weeks like everybody else has to put their teams together, but we don’t,”” he said. “”The big advantage is we play in a 7,000 seat arena, and we’re kind of an enigma that we’re not just a college hockey team, we’re a town team.””

This will be the 30th season the Icecats play at the TCC Arena, better known to Icecat fans as the “”Madhouse.””

Time spent on the ice in the few practices leading up to the opener in Tempe will be essential.

“”You could spend time running sprints or just running, but nothing replaces being in hockey shape,”” he said. “”Skating is skating; it uses different muscles and everything else.””

When the team finally gets on the ice for game action, Golembiewski said that goaltending will be vital.

“”You can’t win without offense but at the same token you can’t win without good goaltending and good defense,”” Golembiewski said. “”It all comes down to the nets. You’ve got to have goaltenders that can be consistent and stop the puck.””

Last year Arizona was outscored 145-109 in 29 games. It gave up an average of five goals a game while its offense averaged just 3.76. The negative differential caught up to the Wildcats as the season went on and the team finished 11-18.

“”Our goaltending last year wasn’t good enough,”” Golembiewski said. “”Right across the board we have to strengthen ourselves and we feel we’ve done that and have got a good nucleus back.””

Currently, freshmen Steven Sisler and Julian Talavera are competing for the starting job.

Golembiewski is also confident with the addition of a handful of solid defensemen.

Among them is 6-foot-1 Michael Basist. Also, junior Jonathan Watanabe transferred from Skidmore College in New York.

Offensively, the team took a hit before the season even started. Sophomore Brian Slugocki who was last year’s co-MVP and leading scorer with 27 goals was declared academically ineligible according to Golembiewski, but he said the team was trying to appeal it.

“”If he’s gone for the semester, that’s a big void,”” Golembiewski said. “”We’re hoping that these new guys, plus with the core back, we’ll be able to sustain offense.””

Freshman forward Andrew Murmes from Massachusetts should be able to fill some of the void as Golembiewski expects him to add a lot to the offense.

Senior forward Jordan Schupan and junior defenseman Geordy Weed are the two co-captains. Along with Schupan, defenseman Micah Kneeshaw is the only other senior on the team. Not including Slugocki, there are 30 players on the roster.

Golembiewski is trying to assemble three front lines and understands how essential depth is especially after last season.

“”You lose players through attrition,”” he said. “”Last year it was probably the most injury-prone year in our 31 years. We lost a lot of manpower games.

“”It’s a pretty young group of guys,”” he said. “”But we feel we have some decent experience although some of them are obviously new players to the organization.””

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