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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Icecats keep playoff hopes alive with 3 wins

    The No. 25 Arizona club hockey team swept Saint Louis University last weekend, keeping its playoffs hope alive – at least for the time being.

    On Jan. 11 and 12, the Icecats dispatched SLU by a combined score of 10-2, highlighted by goalie Nick Boddy’s 64 saves, including a 36-save shutout performance in the first contest.

    “”Boddy has been phenomenal the past four games,”” said forward Robbie Nowinski, pointing to Boddy’s 105 saves over the past four contests. “”I can’t say enough good things about Boddy. He made some unbelievable saves against Saint Louis and ASU. Hopefully he can keep it up for us.””

    Nowinski continued to help set the tone for the Icecats attack as he chipped in with two goals and three assists of his own against SLU. Forward Keith Patterson added four goals and one assist over the weekend.

    The sweep of SLU was much needed because the Icecats were unable to win both games against ASU prior to the winter break. Arizona beat the Sun Devils 3-0 on Dec. 7 in a total team effort. No player recorded more than one point, with six different Icecats tallying assists on goals scored by three different players: Nowinski, forward Jordan Schupan and defender Max Sliwinski. Boddy had another good night between the pipes as he stopped all 34 shots he faced, but the Icecats couldn’t replicate their performance the next night.

    The Icecats fell 5-2 despite a 41-save effort by Boddy. Part of the problem was injuries and missed opportunities, leaving even less time for the team to make a playoff push.

    Forward Craig Irwin re-injured his groin against ASU and forward Scott Marshall injured his shoulder against SLU. The co-captains both could miss games this coming weekend. Defender Austin Capobianco, who recently came back from a shoulder injury, is fighting a staph infection and could miss all or part of next weekend’s action with what coach Leo Golembiewski is calling a “”day-to-day thing.””

    “”We’ve had some bad luck this year,”” Sliwinksi said. “”Whenever you’re losing people like that, it’s hard to put together consistency. Our power play hasn’t been as consistent as we would have liked this year and injuries have played some part in that.

    “”It’s hard to find combos that work when you’re dealing with so many injuries and having two captains go down makes it difficult form leadership standpoint. We still have to keep focused and motivated and the more leaders that aren’t around, the easier it is to get distracted.””

    The Icecats have been shorthanded all season, but these key injuries couldn’t come at a worse time. Arizona has a big series coming up this weekend as Oakland University (Michigan) visits Tucson for a series Friday and Saturday.

    “”We play a No. 11 ranked (Oakland University) squad that won the DI-ACHA (American Collegiate Hockey Association) title last year, so this will obviously be a big test for us,”” Golembiewski said. “”The guys are playing pretty good right now and we’ll definitely have to bring our ‘A’ game if we want a sweep this weekend.””

    At 13-7-1, the Icecats need to win the rest of their games to have a realistic shot at the ACHA National Championships in Rochester, N.Y. in March, Golembiewski said. In order to qualify, Arizona would have to jump from its current No. 25 ranking to at least the No. 16 ranking, as only the top 16 teams get an invite to the tournament.

    While the Icecats do have 10 games left on the schedule, only eight are of significance because the 16 bids are doled out a week prior to the Feb. 22 and 23 home games against Texas Tech. With so much riding on these next few games, not being at full strength could prove to be the Icecats’ undoing, but the team remains confident that they can make a late surge for the playoffs.

    “”When we play a really disciplined team, we tend to buckle down and play more disciplined also,”” Sliwinski said. “”I think we have as much skill as anybody in the country, we just need to execute and play our game.””

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