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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Pro/Con: Should club hockey play after icing playoff berth?

    Sophomore forward Scott Marshall attempts to slide the puck past NAUs goalie in the Icecats 15-3 win Saturday. The Icecats had already made it into the ACHA Championship nearly two weeks prior to their season-ending axing of the Lumberjacks.
    Sophomore forward Scott Marshall attempts to slide the puck past NAU’s goalie in the Icecats’ 15-3 win Saturday. The Icecats had already made it into the ACHA Championship nearly two weeks prior to their season-ending axing of the Lumberjacks.

    Fans pay to see a full season

    Like the Indianapolis Colts did this year, a team clinches home-field advantage throughout the playoffs in the NFL before the final weeks of the season, and like everything else in sports, it all comes down to money.

    In the NFL, advertisers and TV deals are signed in advance, and there’s nothing they can do about it. But with the Icecats, they are mostly funded by season ticket sales and sponsors, so you can’t cheat those people out of their money.

    Sure it was hard to listen to the fans packing “” The Madhouse on Main Street”” telling opposing goalies it was “”all their fault”” 53 different times over the past two weeks – but they were there and enjoying it. If the fans pay for those tickets, you better play the games.

    The Icecats make their schedule at least one year in advance, similar to most other sports at Arizona. Last year, Texas Tech took them into overtime, where Arizona escaped with a 5-4 victory. The Icecats didn’t know this team would come in missing players and become the proverbial cupcake that NAU was going to be.

    Once that schedule is made, there’s nothing Arizona can do about it, whether or not they’re in the ACHA tournament. Are those final two teams supposed to cancel their flights, hotel reservations and get robbed out of two more games to their season? No way.

    The other issue, beside the money, is risking player injury during these final two lame-duck weekends. NFL teams always face the dilemma of playing or sitting their star players, “”rest vs. rust”” (that’s a future ESPN.com headline right there).

    Playing these “”extra”” games puts the players out on the ice more than they need to be, but you can get hurt doing just about anything, including making a late-night stop at Taco Bell. The first way to get injured in sports is to play not to get hurt, and the Icecats definitely weren’t skating away from checks or shying away from contact in the corners.

    They played four fast, clean games of hockey that helped keep them focused for the ACHA Championship.

    After a season that started in October (with practices beginning in September), you’ve covered all you can practice. They’ve been skating against each other and working on power plays for six months now, so even though neither of those teams are top-tier squads, it’s better than practice.

    The outcomes are meaningless, but it’s another opportunity to stay fresh before the games, and in the past weekend’s case, pad your stats. Around the ACHA, few teams even played games – No. 8 ASU hasn’t played since Feb. 11. That will be nearly one month since their last real game action, when they play No. 9 Michigan-Dearborn in the first round of the tournament.

    The Icecats played in the ASU Desert Classic this winter break to avoid getting stiff and rusty. Employing the same theory, these last two weekends indicate they had no plans for taking nearly a month off before the postseason.

    The last four games were jokes compared to the competition the Icecats have played this year, but playing these games kept the players fresh. The attendance at the games showed that fans don’t mind showing up for a blowout and proved you can’t have enough Icecats hockey.

    -Anthony Tarnowski

    Reward not worthy of potential risk

    What’s my motivation?

    This is a valid question that members of the No. 10 Arizona men’s club hockey team and fans alike could not be blamed for asking. The Icecats made it into the American Collegiate Hockey Association Championship when the final rankings were released, a full two weeks before the regular season was over.

    The Icecats then played out the string on their home ice, beating up on Texas Tech and NAU – two teams that looked like they had just learned how to skate about 15 minutes before the game – filling up the net with 53 goals in the four games.

    While the occasional blowout might be enjoyable to watch and hat tricks are always a nice honor for a player to earn (the Icecats had four different players get hat-tricks in the Icecats’ final game against NAU Saturday), watching four meaningless blowouts at home against scrub teams seems like an incredible waste for everyone involved.

    For the Icecats, the risk outweighs the reward. The Icecats do get the chance to play some guys who don’t play as much, but with the frequency that hockey teams have to change lines, regulars for the Icecats still saw plenty of action, putting themselves at risk in a sport where injuries are more frequent than the common cold.

    For the fans, it is a final chance to see their beloved Icecats before heading to Pennsylvania, but why not schedule more games at the beginning of the year or at least move the ACHA final rankings back so that they come out the final week of the season? Fans love to see their team win, but after watching the Red Raiders game, I almost felt sorry for the “”Texans on Ice”” debacle, feeling like I had just watched the school bully take a kid’s lunch money before shoving him into a locker.

    In college basketball, football and baseball, seeding for the postseason is at stake, even if the team is already basically assured of a tournament or bowl berth nearing the end of the season. The Icecats played for their fans, playing not to get hurt and trying not to turn the score into something you would see at a football game.

    Obviously teams don’t want to get rusty waiting for the playoffs to begin, but how much of an advantage is it to basically take your little brother out into the backyard for a little one-on-one hoops and make yourself feel good by scoring at will and blocking all the kid’s shots? If there is really no way to get the ACHA to move back its final rankings to the last week of the season, then schedule a team that will at least be better than a glorified practice squad.

    The team and the fans deserve better. The Icecats are enjoyable to watch, but paying full price ($6.75-$8.75 a seat) to watch what is essentially an exhibition match is a slap rather than a reward to a loyal fan base.

    -Adam Gaub

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