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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

More than a rivalry game

Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat

UofA vs WSU Hockey
Gordon Bates
Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat UofA vs WSU Hockey

A chance at a .500 win percentage, redemption against a hated rivalry, the quest for seven straight wins, the opportunity to take out a top-10 team in the country and the chance to hear thousands of Icecat fanatics at the Tucson Convention Center go absolutely buck wild.

This just in: the Arizona Icecats’ (7-8) two-game weekend series against Arizona State University (17-3) has enormous implications.

“”Everyone knows, even before we started playing (Weber State), that this weekend is going to be huge,”” said sophomore defenseman Geordy Weed. “”It’s going to be intense, and everyone’s going to bring whatever they have to the table.””

Considering the Icecats’ 2-8 start to the season, a chance to reach the .500 mark with more than half of a season to play is a tremendous opportunity.

In addition, the American Collegiate Hockey Association rankings system is partially based on strength of schedule. A couple victories against a top-10 squad will go a long way for a team that has expected to be battling for a spot at nationals all season.

“”These are huge games for us,”” said junior Jordan Schupan. “”If we want to get people’s attention, we’re going to have to beat ASU. They’ve been having a great season, but we’re a different team than we were the first two games of the season.””

The Sun Devils made easy work of the Icecats during Arizona’s opening-weekend series. But that was an Icecats team without six of its top players and featuring 17 who had yet to play in a collegiate hockey game.

Thirteen games later, the team is on a five-game win streak — during which they’ve outscored opponents 29-to-10 — and is playing some of its best hockey of the season.

The offense has been revived, the goaltending is finally solid and the chemistry couldn’t be better.

“”This is probably one of the best camaraderie teams I’ve ever been on,”” said freshman Brian Slugocki. “”Everyone loves each other and we all work together and it’s really starting to show.””

For the Icecats, there is a lot riding on this series, and for ASU, a chance at beating Arizona on the road is motivation enough. Both teams will be more than ready.

“”I think we’ll see a sharp, ready-to-kick-our-butts ASU team, and I think we’re going to be out to show them that we can skate with them,”” said head coach Leo Golembiewski.

An empty seat in the TCC will be rare, a moment of silence beyond the National Anthem will be hard to come by, and the intensity level will be at full blast.

“”Everybody knows what ASU means,”” Weed said. “”It’s just going to be intense, that’s the biggest word that anybody can use and that’s exactly what it’s going to be.””

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