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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Icecats can’t blink in Sin City

Now that the Arizona Icecats are fully healthy and their chaotic start to the season is over, it’s finally time for them to take a collective deep breath, right? Not so much.

When the puck drops tonight at Fiesta Rancho Ice Arena for the Icecats’ two-game series against the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (8-2), the Icecats will need to be on their toes, or blades.

As a fast start is key to their success, the Arizona club hockey team (2-3) needs to be alert and disciplined early on if they hope for a pair of victories.

“”We’ve got to start off strong,”” said freshman defenseman Zack Waxenberg. “”At the showcase it would take us 10, 15 minutes to get into the flow of the game. I think getting off to a quick start is always the key.””

The Icecats have hurt themselves with early penalties, which have led to shorthanded goals in almost every game this season. In their 4-1 loss to Stony Brook at the ACHA Showcase, they gave up three goals in the first period.

In the team’s 6-4 loss against ASU, they allowed three goals in the first five minutes. Needless to say, if the Icecats are looking to sweep, a hot start is a necessity.

“”It’s more or less getting the first period out of the way,”” said associate coach Dave Dougall. “”We went through that last year too, the first period was a struggle.””

Adding to the Icecats’ early game woes is the team’s lack of practice time. Prior to Tuesday night, the Icecats hadn’t held a full practice during the month of October due to scheduling conflicts — such as the Disney on Ice tour — at the Tucson Convention Center.

The lack of ice is an annual occurrence, but the players must take it into account nonetheless.

“”I think focus is the main thing, because we haven’t been on the ice enough, so we’re probably not going to be as sharp as we want off the bat,”” said freshman defenseman Shane MacLachlan. “”We just have to stay calm and focused and play our game.””

In addition to focus and discipline, execution is the name of the game for the Icecats this weekend.

“”Everything is execution,”” said head coach Leo Golembiewski. “”We have to make the most of our opportunities.””

Fortunately for the Icecats, the return of sophomore forward Brady Lefferts should help them capitalize on those opportunities. Lefferts, who was third on the team in points last season as a freshman, is expected to give the Icecats an added dimension in their offensive attack.

“”I’m looking for Brady to make a mark when he gets back into the lineup,”” Dougall said. “”He has always had great speed and been an aggressive player.””

Although lines are still not set, for the first time all season the Icecats have their entire offense healthy and ready to go; now it is simply a matter of fitting together the pieces of the puzzle and getting off to that fast start.

UNLV, however, will do its best to stop that from happening. Although the Rebels are a Division II club team, they finished last season 25-4 and were ranked in the top-25 of their division for the majority of the year.

But regardless of the opponent, if the Icecats can start out fast, execute and make the most of their opportunities, the wins should take care of themselves. “”As long as we play our game, I feel like we have a good chance of winning,”” Lefferts said.

This trip to Sin City is the team’s final road trip of the semester. With that in mind, the Icecats hope to add a couple to the win column before returning home to the Tucson Convention Center.

“”It’s our last road trip, so I think its kind of key to start the home season on a winning note,”” Dougall said. “”To do that we need to win these two games.””

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