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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Icecats set for ASU showdown

Rodney Haas  / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Icecats vs. UNLV Saturday Nov. 20
Rodney Haas / Arizona Daily Wildcat Icecats vs. UNLV Saturday Nov. 20

Arizona opened the season with two close losses to No. 3 Arizona State on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 but since then, the No. 23 Icecats have gone 8-3 and only lost one of their last six games.

ASU is currently riding a four-game winning streak and average 4.56 goals per game. The Sun Devils also boast a lockdown defense that has limited opponents to 2.94 goals while Arizona has given up 4.31.

However, above all the statistics is the fact that ASU has beat Arizona in 10 straight games.

The Icecats hope to even out the season with the Sun Devils in this weekend’s two-game set at the Tucson Convention Center on Dec. 10 and 11.

Freshman forward Andrew Murmes is only two games into the rivalry, but already understands the meaning. He said a sweep would be enormous in helping the team’s ranking and its personal pride.

“”Everyone’s going to have more fight in them because it’s ASU and we want to win,”” he said. “”We just lost to ASU in football, so we want to be the team that sweeps them so everyone goes home for Christmas break feeling a little better about everything.””

Arizona hasn’t played since Nov. 20 when they lost to University of Nevada, Las Vegas, who snapped its six-game win streak with a 7-4 defeat. The team will have only had five practices since their last game when it takes to the ice on Friday night.

Coach Leo Golembiewski said the loss caused discomfort for him.

“”We’re not as happy with the situation as we were because of our lackluster performance against UNLV,”” he said. “”We felt we were pretty much on a roll after sweeping a very tough Colorado State team.””

Seeing that the team was limited to its time on the ice, Golembiewski said it’s going to be important to be mentally  prepared for the third-ranked Sun Devils.

“”The mental aspect is huge and there’s a lot at stake,”” he said. “”We have to be able to handle the pressures of playing against a solid club.””

He said that winning this weekend has a major impact on the Icecats’ hopes for nationals. In order to break into the top 16 and qualify, the Icecats have to beat Arizona State.

On the ice, Golembiewski said it will be important to have lock-down goaltending, which has been an issue of late. He also said the transitions need to improve and the team needs to avoid mistakes in the middle third of the ice.

But overall, Golembiewski wants to work on everything heading into the series ranging from the power play to line work.

“”We’ve got to be strong in the nets. We can’t give up any soft goals and have to be very attentive to the puck wherever it is on the ice and react to it and stop it,”” he added. “”The defense has been having some hard times getting the puck up and out.””

Murmes agreed, and said that the team needs to sharpen up all around on defense. Offensively, he has scored 30 points with 12 goals and 18 assists. He’s second place on the team in terms of points.

“”Goals will come. We have an explosive offense and we just really need (to) focus on our defensive aspect because it takes everyone to play it,”” Murmes said. “”If we play defense it will help our goaltending and defensemen will ultimately lead to us winning.””

Senior co-captain forward Jordan Schupan leads the team with 32 points on 15 goals and 17 assists while sophomore forward Jared Lowell has scored 27 points with 10 goals and 17 assists. Sophomore co-captain forward Brian Slugocki is second place in goals scored with 14.

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