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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Club hockey ends season on high note

    Arizona Icecat players celebrate a 4-3 seven-round shootout win against ASU Saturday night in the Tucson Convention Center. The Icecats ended their season above the .500 mark for the 29th time in 30 years.
    Arizona Icecat players celebrate a 4-3 seven-round shootout win against ASU Saturday night in the Tucson Convention Center. The Icecats ended their season above the .500 mark for the 29th time in 30 years.

    The Arizona club hockey team finished their season with a winning record, making this the 29th season out of 30 that the Icecats finished with a record above the .500 mark. It was also a season in which the Icecats’ head coach got his 600th win and was nominated for the USA Hockey Hall of Fame. A winning record for most teams is a commendable feat, but for a program that has made the postseason 23 times, this season marks the third-consecutive year that Arizona has finished with a winning record but has failed to make the American Collegiate Hockey National Championship Tournament.

    “”It has nothing to do with my own personal disappointment, I was more disappointed that the seniors didn’t get another chance to go to the tournament,”” UA head coach Leo Golembiewski said regarding the team missing the ACHA tournament again.

    The season began with the Icecats losing three straight games in the ACHA Showcase Tournament in West Chester, Pa., despite playing well in all three games. The bad start to the season lingered throughout the first half of the season as the team went 5-9-1.

    “”It was really unfortunate how the first half of the season turned out,”” forward Robbie Nowinski said after Saturday’s 4-3 shootout win against ASU. “”I don’t think we had many bounces go our way and with everyone injured (that didn’t help).””

    Injuries and ineligibility hurt the Icecats the entire year, with the most significant being senior captain Matt Conover. In the second half of the season, Arizona was without junior forward Cody Morin and freshman Nick Bach due to academic ineligibility.

    During the second half of the season, the Icecats seemed to gain momentum from a Sunday afternoon game against Adrian College in which they scored two goals in the last two minutes. After that win, the Icecats went 6-2 to end the season and the players began to mature.

    “”We went with a youth movement to begin the season and we have a bunch of young guys we can look forward to having for next season,”” Golembiewski said.

    The Icecats lost six seniors, but the biggest hole will be the loss of goaltender Nick Boddy.

    “”It’s difficult to lose great goaltenders but I’ve been coaching a long time so this is not the first time I’ve had to deal with this,”” Golembiewski said.

    Boddy finished his career with the highest save percentage (.921) and the most points (12) in a career by any Icecat goaltender. This season, the backup goaltender was sophomore Nick Taylor who didn’t see any ice time. Golembieski said the team won’t know who will be the Icecats’ new goaltender until after tryouts next season.

    Arizona will also lose this season’s leading scorers in Nowinski and Conover, who played in only seven games the entire season. Nowinski finished 23rd and Conover finished 20th in the Icecats list of all-time scorers.

    Although Arizona will lose its top three players next season, they have a reason to be excited for next season. One of the Icecats’ top defensemen, junior Austin Capobianco, will return and freshman defenseman Geordy Weed – who was arguably one of the most consistent players this season – will be back with a year under his belt.

    Also returning will be forward Jordan Schupan, who had a breakout season and was the team’s second leading scorer. Schupan missed nine games toward the end of the season with an injury and is expected to have off-season surgery on his separated right shoulder.

    “”I think the end of the season bodes well for the future,”” Schupan said Friday after a 6-0 win against ASU. “”The last couple weeks when the team was on the road a lot of the guys were stepping up, hopefully they can carry it into next season.

    In the last two seasons the Icecats have started slow but played outstanding in the second half of the season. But in order for Arizona to end their three-year postseason drought it will have to get off to better start in the 2009-10 season.

    “”We have to get the players to buy into our style of play earlier in the season,”” Golembiewski said. “”We don’t know what the mix of next year’s team will be. … There is no guarantee that the players from this year will be here next year, it depends on what players come to the university and we will go from there.””

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