Lindenwood beats up on Icecats

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Mike Christy

Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat The Icecats fell to the No. 1 Lindenwood Lions 13-4 Friday night in the Tucson Convention Center.

Mike Schmitz

The defending American Collegiate Hockey Association Champions, Lindenwood University, made easy work of the Arizona Icecats this past weekend, sweeping the UA club hockey team in a series full of thrown punches and Lions goals.

“”We definitely came in intimidated and gave them way too much respect,”” said senior defenseman Austin Capobianco after the first game. “”We weren’t skating at all. We were just letting them skate around us and it seems, more often than not, we go down early immediately and have to climb an uphill battle.””

Lindenwood (28-2) came out looking like the Hockey Association’s No. 1 team, and the Icecats (9-12) were intimidated, losing 13-4 and 10-2 in the weekend’s two-game series.

In game one, it took two Lindenwood goals in the first two minutes of play for the Icecats to wake up.

They answered back with a goal from freshman forward Brian Slugocki 6:07 into the first period. But just when it seemed the Icecats were gaining some momentum, junior standout Jordan Schupan left the game with a dislocated shoulder.

“”Not only does he kill penalties, but he’s on the power play and he’s centering the first line,”” said head coach Leo Golembiewski. “”It was a big loss.””

Already down 3-1, Icecats players began dropping like flies.

Physicality and trash-talking began brewing between the two teams, and it finally exploded in the form of four separate fights with 37 seconds remaining in the first period.

Freshmen Sean MacLachlan and Zack Waxenberg, along with sophomore Geordy Weed and senior Micah Kneeshaw, were all disqualified from the contest and suspended for the second game. Three Lindenwood players were also tossed and suspended.

“”(The fights) were both good and bad,”” Capobianco said. “”We lost a lot of players but it got us back into it and really fired up the bench.””

The Icecats were forced to close out the game with only 14 players in uniform, but they responded from the line brawl in a big way.

Forward Brady Lefferts scored two goals in the first five minutes of the second period to bring the Icecats within one. But just as they got within striking distance, Lindenwood answered back less than a minute and a half later with two goals of its own, surging ahead 6-3.

The short bench and lack of healthy bodies crippled the Icecats, and the nation’s best club took care of business, eventually winning the game by a score of 13-4.

“”Losing five guys out there, it shortens your bench, makes everybody tired and makes it pretty difficult,”” Lefferts said. “”Losing Schupan and four others was definitely huge.””

Without three of their better defensemen and arguably their best offensive player, the Icecats were dominated in game two.

After freshman goaltender David Herman was exposed in Friday night’s game, Golembiewski went with junior Nick Taylor between the pipes in game two. But it didn’t matter who was in the goal as Lindenwood yet again jumped out to an early lead against a tired and depleted Icecats team.

The Lions led 4-0 at the end of the first period and eventually cruised to a 10-2 victory. But considering the circumstances — five key players out due to suspensions and injuries — the Icecats fought hard from start to finish.

The end result of the weekend may have been ugly — no one enjoys being outscored 23-6 over a two-game span — but the experience of playing a team of Lindenwood’s caliber for 120 minutes will better serve this Icecats team for the remainder of the season.

“”Any time you play a strong team, it always benefits you because you know where you’re at and you know where you have to go to,”” said associate head coach Dave Dougall. “”You don’t often get to play a No. 1, so it’s a good experience.””