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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

“Icecats to be tested in Colorado, eye .500”

Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat

The Icecats were blanked by the University of Colorado Buffaloes 0-4 Friday night at the Tucson Convention Center.

Saturday night was a different story as the Cats held on for 2-1 victory over Colorado.
Mike Christy
Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat The Icecats were blanked by the University of Colorado Buffaloes 0-4 Friday night at the Tucson Convention Center. Saturday night was a different story as the ‘Cats held on for 2-1 victory over Colorado.

For the last couple of weeks, the UA club hockey team has had its sights set on a .500 win percentage. Last weekend’s sweep in Ogden, Utah, against Weber State was the first step in the process, with part two still to come this weekend in Colorado. The Icecats (12-14) take on Colorado State in Fort Collins tonight and the University of Colorado in Boulder on Saturday.

“”All of (the remaining games) are must wins from here on out,”” said senior defenseman Zach Cherney. “”With nationals out of the picture at this point, our goal is to get to .500 and we can do that by winning three of the next four games, and it starts with these two against Colorado.””

The Icecats faced both Colorado (15-4) and Colorado State (19-7-1) twice in mid-November, splitting the series with Colorado and sweeping Colorado State.

After being shutout 4-0 in game one against the Buffalos, the Icecats answered back with a gutsy 2-1 victory. They handled Colorado State 4-1 in game one and pulled out a miracle in game two, scoring to tie it up with 37 seconds left and ultimately stealing a win in shootouts.

This time around should be an even tougher test for the Icecats. They will take the ice after a 14-hour bus ride to Fort Collins, coming off of another practice-less week due to lack of ice availability at the Tucson Convention Center.

“”The first game’s always tough because of that trip. There’s not much recovery time,”” Cherney said. “”After being on a bus for so long, it’s difficult to get your legs going, but at this point we’ve got to win the next two games.””

The Icecats will undoubtedly be tested in the Centennial State but head coach Leo Golembiewski and his players alike are optimistic about the weekend.

“”I think the team right now is very positive, upbeat — everybody’s working hard, so I’m very pleased with the attitude of the club, and that’s the key,”” Golembiewski said.

The players have confidence in their chances despite the travel and lack of practice time.

“”(Colorado and Colorado State are) good schools, but they’re definitely teams that we can beat,”” Cherney added.

The Icecats will have to do so without two first-line players — junior Jordan Schupan and sophomore Brady Lefferts — along with senior Micah Kneeshaw. However, forward Blake Richards and Jeff Back will return to the lineup after missing the last couple of games due to injury, as will defenseman Zack Waxenberg, who missed the last two games due to suspension for fighting.

The addition of Back, Richards and Waxenberg is a bonus, and, since the team has been injury-plagued virtually every game this season, playing undermanned is certainly not uncharted territory for the Icecats.

Despite all of the injuries and lack of practice time this season, the team still has a chance to leave the weekend at even par, 14-14, with ASU looming in two weeks.

“”With these injuries, its incredible that you have such a young team with 19 debuting players and still have won as many games as they have with the effort they put in,”” Golembiewski said.

But the goal for the past month has been reaching the .500 mark, and the Icecats have a chance to do that this weekend with a sweep of the Colorado schools. It won’t be easy, but this team has shown that when things are right, they are capable of beating almost anyone.

“”We’re going a little undermanned again,”” Golembiewski said. “”Colorado State and Colorado are stronger teams than Weber State, and playing in their arenas are tough, so we’ll have our hands full, but I think our guys can certainly handle it.””

Homecoming of sorts

Freshman goaltender David Herman almost went to the University of Colorado to play hockey and even lived in the state for a few years while playing for a club team in the area.

“”Boulder’s like a second home for me,”” Herman said. “”I’m looking forward to this road trip a lot.

“”These games and (the games at) ASU mean the most to me, probably,”” he added. “”I had a few personal goals going into the season. One of them was to win at least four of six against the Colorado schools.

“”Everybody’s got to play well. Goaltending’s got to play well, defense has got to play well, forwards — we’re going to be on the road but we can’t use it as an excuse. We’re just going to have to be ready to play and have everyone show up.””

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