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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Icecats need to step up vs. defending ACHA champs

    With the twilight of the season approaching, the postseason chances for the No. 25 Arizona club hockey team are getting dimmer as well.

    At 13-7-1, the Icecats virtually have to win out to have a realistic shot at the postseason because only the top 16 teams in the American Collegiate Hockey Association rankings get invited to the national championships. Having already played a tough schedule thus far, the road only gets tougher for Arizona as the defending ACHA Division I national champions invade Tucson in the form of No. 11 Oakland University (Michigan).

    “”Obviously, these are huge games this weekend,”” head coach Leo Golembiewski said. “”We’ve just got to go out there and play like we know we can and string together some wins.””

    Winning has been a bit of a struggle for the Icecats this year as they’ve only managed to post three series sweeps all season. Golembiewski attributes part of that to how difficult it can be to maintain focus and intensity on successive nights against the same team. Another key contributor to Arizona’s lack of consistency has been the myriad of injuries the team has suffered – and that trend reared its ugly head thrice more over the break.

    Three key players will miss all or some of this weekend’s action due to various injuries. Defender Austin Capobianco is out with a staph infection and can’t play unless he’s no longer contagious. The other two injured Icecats are co-captains Scott Marshall (shoulder) and Craig Irwin (groin).

    “”Capo is probably

    If we just take things on shift by shift, period by period, then I don’t think (the array of injuries) will be as insurmountable.

    -Leo
    Golembiewski,
    Icecats head coach

    playing the best ‘D’ since he’s been here, and the other two (injured players) are captains so everyone else is going to have to pull their own weight,”” assistant coach Dave

    Dougall said. “”Some players will be out there more than they’re used to, so we’re going to need big efforts from everybody in order for us to win.””

    Golembiewski said the team should be able to overcome its lack of manpower, seeing how they’ve managed to keep playing, even with the rash of injuries sustained so far this season.

    “”If we just take things on shift by shift, period by period, then I don’t think (the array of injuries) will be as insurmountable,”” Golembiewski said.

    Marshall said he should be able to play, but admitted he won’t be 100 percent.

    “”Most of the guys are feeling good coming off last weekend (against Saint Louis),”” Marshall said. “”Everyone else is healthy and ready to go. I’m gonna try and go and I’ll definitely give it my all, but all of our eyes are focused just on the game (and not the injuries).””

    Oakland should play a similar style to the other Michigan team the Icecats played this season – the defending ACHA D-II champions Michigan State Spartans. Dougall said the team needs to keep trying to work the puck down deep to control the flow of the game and limit turnovers at center ice in order to maximize Arizona’s chances of winning.

    “”They have a little more size than Michigan State, and I’m sure they’ll have a lot of speed,”” Dougall said. “”Every other component they bring to the table will amount to a more fast paced game than last weekend.””

    But perhaps the most important part to this weekend’s tilt, from the Icecats standpoint, will be the hot play of UA goalie Nick Boddy, who had a spectacular performance over the winter break, stopping 139 of the 145 shots he faced over the four-game stretch while recording two shutouts.

    “”It all starts with goaltending,”” Dougall said. “”A soft goal can deflate a team, and if you have the kind of goaltending that we’ve been having recently, then a mistake won’t always kill ya.””

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