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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

On thin ice

ASU club hockey head coach Jeremy Goltz was once a member of the Arizona Icecats but now has coached the rival Sun Devils to a No. 8 ranking. Goltz? team will face Arizona this weekend at the Tucson Convention Center.
ASU club hockey head coach Jeremy Goltz was once a member of the Arizona Icecats but now has coached the rival Sun Devils to a No. 8 ranking. Goltz? team will face Arizona this weekend at the Tucson Convention Center.

When the Arizona Icecats and the ASU Sun Devils take the ice, everyone from the referees to the concessions workers know what’s at stake. But very few understand the meaning of these games for ASU head coach Jeremy Goltz.

Of course, most coaches want to massacre their most-hated rivals, but Goltz’s thirst for victory goes far beyond a simple rivalry. He was a standout defenseman for the Icecats from 1990-1994 under current UA head coach Leo Golembiewski.

“”There’s just a lot to it, I’ll be honest with you,”” said Goltz, whose Sun Devils will host the Icecats this weekend. “”I got fans yelling at me, fans that I’ve known for 10 years. It’s obviously an emotional time.””

The Chicago native was a scholarship athlete and finished as the program’s all-time defensive leading scorer.

After being named to the Icecats Hall of Fame, Goltz was offered a chance to remain with the team as an associate coach, an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.

“”I got hurt my senior year and felt like I had some unfinished business,”” Goltz said. “”I played a little bit in the East Coast Hockey League and then (Golembiewski) offered me the opportunity to come back.

“”It’s something I never really thought about ahead of time, but it ended up being a pretty cool deal.””

After five years as the Icecats’ associate head coach, Goltz was offered the ASU head coaching job in 1999, but turned down the offer.

“”I was still hoping to maybe one day take (the UA) job over, and just initially I was so entrenched in it,”” Goltz said. 

But Goltz’s chances of capturing the head coaching job at Arizona were slim-to-none, though not because he didn’t have the credibility. Golembiewski had been running the show for more than 20 years at the time and was unwilling to step down from the program.

Goltz discussed his chances of taking over with Golembiewski, but to no avail. He admitted his relationship with Golembiewski was not always the picture of perfection.

“”I was a younger kid, I mean, I was young and naïve,”” Goltz finally said after a pause. “”We had our times like everybody. We had differences of opinion.””

Differences of opinion or no, Goltz never got his chance to be head coach at Arizona and left the program in 2001. From there he started his own youth hockey program in Phoenix called Mission AZ Ice.

After entrenching himself deeply in the youth program for a number of years, Goltz was again offered the ASU job in 2008. This time he couldn’t say no.

“”While I was at the U of A (in 1999), it just wasn’t the right time, but 10 years later I was a little bit older, more mature and out of the U of A picture,”” Goltz said. “”I really felt like it was the right time to take advantage of it.””

Goltz is now in his second season as ASU head coach and has catapulted the hockey program onto the national stage — No. 8 in the country.  But regardless of the national recognition, the former Icecat has the matchups against Arizona marked on his calendar and strives to dismantle the Arizona club hockey team every time the puck drops.

“”He took a lot of passion into coaching and he also makes a big emphasis on, ‘This is critical to their program, just beating the Icecats,'”” said Icecats associate coach Dave Dougall. “”He’s put a lot of focus on these games and expects results.””

While the games have big implications for Goltz, Golembiewski would not admit to the same emotional attachment.

“”No. Why would they?”” Golembiewski said when asked whether these games mean a little more to him given the coaching history. “”I taught him how to coach.””

That much is up for debate, but what is known is that every time Goltz sets foot on the Tucson Convention Center ice, 10 years of both positive and negative history come right along with him.

From Icecats Hall of Famer to ASU head coach? It seems like a bit of an oxymoron. But if he had the chance now to fulfill the dream that he had 10 years ago, would Goltz take it?

“”If there’s a day when that opportunity presents itself (to be head coach at Arizona) you’d have to ask me on that day,”” Goltz said. “”I’d have to say right now, I’m happy where I’m at. We’ve turned this program around in one year and right now I’m a Devil.

“”Now I just want to go down there and kick some ass.””

 

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