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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Sweep of ASU keeps Icecats’ hopes alive

    Sweep of ASU keeps Icecats hopes alive

    The Arizona men’s club hockey team’s second weekend trip to Tempe was twice as nice as its first visit, as the No. 24 Arizona Icecats swept rival ASU in a two-game series.

    The Icecats only dressed 15 players for both games due to various injuries and illnesses, but still put together a strong performance despite missing key cogs in co-captain Craig Irwin (groin), defender Evan Marro (DQ) and defender Phil Hotarek (groin).

    “”When you lose one of your best defenders it makes it tough,”” said UA head coach Leo Golembiewski said. “”But I was really impressed with (Zack) Stommen, (Max) Sliwinski, (Austin) Capobianco, (Devon) Brady, (Zach) Samson with (Zach) Churney who just came off two month illness. All those guys really stepped it up big. Any time you get a sweep on the road you’ve got to be happy, and we are.””

    Golembiewski said the successful weekend was highlighted by a great overall team effort, good special teams play and even more solid goaltending from goalie Nick Boddy. Arizona pulled out a 6-5 shootout victory Saturday night after posting a 2-0 win Friday and hopes to keep the ball rolling toward the American Collegiate Hockey Association National Championships in March.

    “”Our special teams are really coming around,”” forward Robbie Nowinski said. “”It’s been a long time comin’. Finally, it’s good to see that our powerplay is working really well and our penalty kill is outstanding. (Scott) Marshall, Capo and Brady all did a great job on some of ASU’s five-on-three’s.””

    Saturday’s contest had its fair share of interesting moments as Arizona came back from a 1-0 hole after UA defender Max Sliwinski evened things up late in the first period. The Icecats managed to build a two-goal lead two separate times, but let its foot off the gas and ASU back into the game, allowing the Sun Devils to squander forced overtime. One of Arizona’s goals came off a funny bounce as UA defender Austin Capobianco sent the puck deep into the ASU end, where it caromed off the boards, deflected off the ASU goalie and creeped past the line to give Arizona a 3-1 lead.

    ASU managed to claw back and force overtime with a third-period flurry of goals, but the five-minute overtime yielded no results, so the teams went to a shootout and the goalies took center stage. Boddy stoned all five ASU shots and Icecat forward Matt Conover netted the lone goal of the shootout to give Arizona the victory.

    Friday’s game was all about special teams for the Icecats. Arizona was outshot 47-37, but Boddy turned away all 47 shots and recorded his fourth shutout of the season. Arizona also killed off all nine of ASU’s powerplays and went 2-4 on its own powerplay opportunities, with Nowinski notching both goals off assists from forward Matt Conover.

    “”On Friday, Boddy played out of his mind,”” Sliwinski said. “”I haven’t seen anybody play that good in a long time. He kept us in the game and keeping that shutout was good for our morale and kept our momentum going. He came through at the most clutch point of the weekend (in the shootout). Any time you go 5-5 in a shootout you’re playing pretty damn good.””

    Arizona faces an interesting scenario as it has only four days of rest before facing the same ASU squad Thursday and Friday night. With such a short break between series, Arizona must rest up and get healthy as the next two games could prove to be even more of a dogfight than the last.

    “”It’s gonna be brutal,”” Nowinski said. “”There’s a lot of bad blood going around right now and they’re gonna come back really pissed off. It’ll probably be another intense series.””

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