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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Practice problems a tricky deal for hockey

Kyle Johnson
Kyle Johnson/ Arizona Daily Wildcat

The Tucson Convention Center gives the Arizona hockey team an advantage when playing at home. It seats thousands of passionate fans in a real arena.

There’s just one little catch — at times, it doesn’t have any ice.
It’s the drawback to playing at the largest venue in ACHA club hockey, defenseman Michael Basist said.

For these last two months, the Tucson Convention Center has been without ice because it was holding other events, forcing the team to travel to the Polar Ice rink in Chandler for ice time.

This problem is not new for the Wildcats. According to the Tucson Adult Hockey League’s website, the only public ice rink available in Tucson closed in 2007, causing the team to make the long trip to Chandler ever since.

“It’s happened in all my four years here,” assistant captain Brady Lefferts said.

But first year coach Sean Hogan is trying to implement a new system and culture to the program, the inability to practice in Tucson has made the transition just that much harder.

The trip

The bus ride, which takes approximately an hour and forty-five minutes each way, leaves the TCC around 6 p.m. and returns to campus around 1a.m.

“It’s a good chunk out of your day that you’re traveling,” captain Brian Slugocki said.

“It’s quite the time commitment.”

Since the team takes a charter bus, the players have the luxury of watching movies. The playlist is diverse, and they occasionally show hockey movies, but as Slugocki said, the players have “pretty much seen all hockey movies ever created.”

Since they never stop in Chandler, the players try to find many places still open to eat when the team gets back, making Cheba Hut and Mama’s Hawaiian BBQ popular for players, according to forward Andrew Murmes.

Class work

While the bus does provide ample time for studying or homework, the online material of most classes nowadays makes time management more difficult.

“In between classes you try to get most of your work done online,” Murmes said.

In addition, it can become even harder when a major assignment is due. For example, Slugocki has a paper due Wednesday and practice in Chandler this week is on both Tuesday and Wednesday.

“It’s tough to have enough time to be able to put into schoolwork,” Slugocki said.

“It really just comes down to being well organized and having time management to know when to do these things.”

While the late start on Tuesday works for most of the team, assistant captain Geordy Weed has not been able to make the trip because of a class he has Tuesday evenings.

“Coach is really big on school work, keeping up with the grades and all that, (and) I completely agree, but he doesn’t want us missing class,” Weed said.

Weed will be able to make practice on Wednesday, but prior to that, his only ice time came before games.

Off-ice workouts

The Wildcats have supplemented their lack of ice time through team and individual workouts. But as Murmes points out, the Wildcats can’t simulate actually being on the ice.

“There is no real way to get into skating shape besides skating,” Murmes said. “Riding the bike and that stuff helps, but you got to skate.”

The Wildcats’ workout regiment usually includes a lot of plyometrics and sprints in order to build leg strength and quickness, Lefferts said.

“As players, we are used to (little ice time) now, so it is nothing that we use as a crutch to lean on,” Slugocki said.

Looking ahead

By the end of the month the TCC will again have ice, but this issue will most likely come back again in February.

“It’s something that we just have to deal with,” Lefferts said. “It’s not ideal, but we just have to make up for it with training off ice and running. We just got to make sure we work harder off ice to compensate for the missed ice time.”

And while all the travel has been inconvenient for the Wildcats, Murmes doesn’t let it frustrate him.

“We love hockey, that’s why we play,” Murmes said. “And I know even through juniors and high school, when you play hockey, you dedicate everything to it. There is going to be traveling, there are going to be obstacles and everything.

“The 27 guys just love (hockey) more than anything, and it’s fun hanging out with them.”

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