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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Hockey night in Tempe

Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat
Gordon Bates
Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Opening the season with a two-game series at No. 9 ASU tonight might be like jumping into a fire for the Icecats.

However, those flames might not seem as hotafter some recent good news: Brian Slugocki is eligible.

The sophomore forward and co-captain had previously been listed as academically ineligible, but on Sept. 27, the American Collegiate Hockey Association declared him eligible after head coach Leo Golembiewski appealed.

“”We were disappointed he was ineligible in the first place with that kind of fire power,”” Golembiewski said. “”As soon as it happened, we adapted right away and made some changes.””

Slugocki scored a team-high 27 goals and 23 assists in 29 games last season.

“”With him back, it gives us a solid power forward that can shoot the puck,”” Golembiewski said. “”He was the co-MVP last year as a freshman and the leading scorer.””

Slugocki said that last year was his best individual year ever, but he’d rather the team does better overall. The improved roster in 2010-11 provides hope that this year will be better, which makes him excited about this season.

“”Having a year under my belt, I know more about how my teammates and I are going to play,”” Slugocki said. “”I’m looking forward to having 18 new guys playing.””

Defensively, freshman Steven Sisler earned the starting job at goaltender earlier this week. Golembiewski said Sisler is a solid positional goalie and doesn’t give the crease or net away.

“”I am pretty psyched because I haven’t played a college hockey game yet,”” Sisler said about the upcoming season. “”I’m especially excited about the home games here because of the fans and all, I’ve never played in a stadium like this before.””

Golembiewski is excited about the three front lines he has assembled. He said it isn’t about ranking them but instead having the nine strongest players from an offensive standpoint and constantly rotating the units.

“”We’re trying to go with three lines that can score,”” Golembiewski said. “”Not a third checking line but three that can actually put the puck in the net.””

Senior Jordan Schupan will be the center on a line with wings Jared Lowell and junior Blake Richards. Slugocki will center for sophomores Sean Sullivan and Ryan Mohr and freshman Andrew Murmes will anchor the third line in between freshmen Michael Babyak and Jeff Wadhams.

“”Schupan, Slugocki and Murmes are our three centers and we want our offense to revolve around those guys,”” Golembiewski said.

Junior Geordy Weed and sophomore Nick Stolz, junior Jonathan Watanabe and freshman Ryan Brinkhurst and freshmen Mike Basist and Kevin Allen will all pair up as defensemen to round out the rotation.

Last year ASU swept the Icecats 8-0 in head-to-head battles and outscored the Wildcats 47-18. The Sun Devils finished last season 26-9-3.

Golembiewski doesn’t want last year’s performance to overshadow this year’s. He also said it isn’t about revenge.

“”We have to attack the net and try to get the puck deep and have to try to control play through possession,”” he said. “”We don’t teach reactionary hockey. We want our players to anticipate one another. Let’s go out there and make them react to us and try to adapt to what we’re doing.””

The team will bus up for the game tonight, return to Tucson afterwards and then go back up for tomorrow’s game. Golembiewski said a benefit of doing that is being able to make any roster adjustments that might be necessary after the opener.

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