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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Icecats open season against ASU after 4 weeks of practice

    After four weeks of practice, the puck will finally drop for the Arizona men’s club hockey team as it opens its season tonight against ASU at the Ice Den in Scottsdale.

    Icecats head coach Leo Golembiewski said the team is anxious to play against people besides themselves.

    “”We know each other pretty well, and it’s hard to get better when you know everybody’s style and tendencies so well,”” he said. “”Once the season starts, the intensity has to be there on every shift. There’s no way to be sure we can do that until we start playing.””

    This year’s Icecats look to improve on last season’s 17-13-1 record, which caused them to miss out on the American Collegiate Hockey Association National Championships in Youngstown, Ohio.

    Senior co-captains Scott Marshall and Craig Irwin said the team is poised for a deeper run this season, one they hope to end in Rochester, N.Y., the site of the 2008 ACHA Championships.

    Marshall said he’s looking forward to playing this year and thinks the team will prosper because it returns so many players, including its leading goal scorer in junior Matt Conover.

    Both Marshall and Irwin have the same goals: to beat ASU every time this season and return the Icecats to the postseason for the first time since 2005-2006.

    “”It’s been two years since we had a really good season,”” Irwin said. “”I’d like to be able to say I helped lead the team to a good season.””

    Last season, the Icecats won only two of six matches against ASU, one in overtime and one on an ASU forfeit that ended with a controversial late Arizona goal. Four of the six games went to
    overtime, and two games required a shootout, with each team
    winning one.

    “”We just have to play a full 60 (minutes) and get the job done on offense and defense,”” Golembiewski said. “”We have to play Icecat hockey. If we get zoned in and are playing well together, we’ll always be one step ahead of our opponent.””

    Marshall said he thinks the team will be in better shape this year since it started the preseason conditioning program earlier than in previous seasons.

    The team had a lot of injury problems last year, but the conditioning program should help remedy that, he said.

    Golembiewski hopes against injuries, saying the team they can’t afford too many losses on defense this season. With six solid defensemen, the team is “”kind of thin at the position”” after the seventh or eighth player, Golembiewski said.

    Golembiewski and Marshall said the team is not big physically and will have to rely more on speed to succeed.

    “”The key to a good defense is playing a good controlled offense,”” Golembiewski said. “”If we do our job, then we make their job against us that much more difficult.””

    Golembiewski’s mentor was former Detroit Red Wings head coach Scotty Bowman, and the UA coach tries to mirror his coaching style after the nine-time Stanley Cup champion and Hockey Hall of Fame member.

    “”Bowman dictated the way he wanted his players to play, and they bought into it and played well,”” Golembiewski said. “”He built on the strengths and weaknesses of the linemates, and that’s what we’re trying to do here.””

    By doing that, the Icecats should improve on the consistency problems that plagued them last year, Golembiewski said.

    When the Icecats take on ASU, the game should be the usual fight to the finish, Irwin said.

    “”Every year it’s the same thing with (ASU),”” he said. “”It doesn’t matter what the rankings are. It will be an all-out battle, and whoever plays the hardest and wants it more is going to win.””

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