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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Hockey opens season at NAU

Kyle+Wasson+%2F+Arizona+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0AUA+hockey+practices+on+Sept.+18%2C+2012.
Kyle Wasson / Arizona Daily Wildcat UA hockey practices on Sept. 18, 2012.

The Arizona Wildcat hockey team opens its season at Division II Northern Arizona’s Jay Lively Activity Center on Friday and Saturday at 8:30 p.m. When Arizona last played the Ice Jacks two seasons ago, it was upset 5-4.

“They’re doing a good job in D-II,” head coach Sean Hogan said.

“They’ve got a new coach [Travis Johanson] who seems to have them on the right track.”

Last year NAU finished 16th in the country and entered the national tournament as the No. 5 seed.

“I think they’re going to be a tough team,” senior forward Brian Slugocki said. “I know a few of the kids on the team. Even if they’re not an ACHA Division I team, it doesn’t mean that we should take them lightly.”

The Ice Jacks return their leading scorer, junior forward Gregory Park, who had 48 points and 23 goals in 32 games last year. Senior forward Taylor Dustin led NAU in goals a year ago with 25 goals in 32 games.

“They are going to come out guns a-blazin’. We’re a higher league team or whatever, so anytime you have that kind of matchup they’re going to want to come hard,” Hogan said. “They’re definitely going to be a good opponent.”

NAUicejacks.com said that former UA head coach Leo Golembiewski was so upset about the Wildcats’ loss two years ago, “he refused to speak with the media and he refused to schedule any games with NAU the following season [last season].”

But Hogan was excited to schedule NAU.

“This is an opponent we’ll probably play four times every year,” Hogan said. “A rivalry is definitely going to be established.”

Arizona will play the Ice Jacks in a two-game series at home to close out the semester.

“We’re pretty lucky. We’re an independent program, so we can schedule who we want to schedule,” Hogan said.

The NAU newspaper and student-run media’s website, northernarizonanews.com, reported that Northern Arizona had a record 88 players try out for its two teams, compared to 16 in 2005, when the program restarted. The Ice Jacks also have a Division III team and boast alumni that played in the NHL.

The Ice Jacks Division II team had its best season ever last year, as did the Division III team, which qualified for the regional tournament for the first time in its history.

The games can be heard on the NAU radio station, KJACK.org.

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