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The Daily Wildcat

 

Building depth

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Ashlee Salamon
Ashlee Salamon/ Arizona Daily Wildcat Zack Waxenburg, Shane McLachlan, and Nick Stolz the Ice Cats new defense men gear up to get ready for practice.

In a matter of five games, the freshman trio of Zack Waxenberg, Nick Stolz and Shane MacLachlan has helped transition Arizona Icecats hockey from a program notorious for lacking depth to a team with more than enough talent to go around.

Having three to four solid defensemen for the Icecats has always been the norm, but these three have done their part to change that Icecat standard.

“”That’s one thing Arizona hockey has never had, is depth,”” said head coach Leo Golembiewski. “”We’ve gone pretty much 30 years with four defensemen. We are hoping we can use (the depth) to our advantage by staying healthy and being able to incorporate seven solid defensemen.””

Going into the season, Golembiewski knew what he would get from veteran defensemen Zach Cherney, Austin Capobianco and Geordy Weed, but the depth beyond those three remained a question.

Waxenberg and MacLachlan were highly touted recruits from California and Canada respectively, but whether or not they would perform at the collegiate level remained to be seen.

Stolz came in as an 18-year-old freshman from Livermore, Calif., who doubted whether he would even make the team.

But this trio of rookie Icecats rose to the occasion during a chaotic start to the season. An Icecats team depleted by injuries opened the season against rival ASU in Tempe. Although the Icecats were swept, the courage and fight the three showed earned them respect from the coaches.

“”Considering we were without five key guys the first night and six guys the second night, I thought they played admirably,”” Golembiewski said.

Golembiewski’s confidence was echoed by his team as well.

“”I was really impressed with the young talent we have,”” said junior co-captain Jordan Schupan. “”They have a lot of time left here so they’re only going to get better.””

The rookie Icecats showed what they can bring to the table, regardless of their lack of collegiate experience. More than anything, the defensive trio gives the Icecats the ability to run several different lines without seeing a drop-off in production.

That flexibility goes a long way in college hockey.

“”Any time you’ve got six solid guys that you can throw out there in any situation, it’s going to help,”” Waxenberg said. “”Defense is what’s going to help you win championships.””

Not only do these three help in the current depth department, they also give the Icecats a lot of promise for the years to come. While they are talented enough to make an impact right now, the defensemen still have room to grow.

“”I think all three are getting stronger the more they play,”” Golembiewski said. “”Again, it’s being confident and feeling comfortable out there, and that’s gained through experience.””

Experience obviously comes with more game time, but Waxenberg, Stolz and MacLachlan have three terrific defenders to learn from along the way. Co-captains Weed and Cherney along with senior defenseman Capobianco have played their fair share of big games and are a perfect resource for the freshmen still learning to play at the collegiate level.

“”It’s nice to look at someone who’s played at this level and this speed and kind of get to know how they play and what the game is going to be like,”” Stolz said.

“”I’ve learned quite a bit about taking my time with the puck and making good area passes,”” MacLachlan said. “”They just make a lot smarter plays and take their time, so that’s the biggest thing.””

Although the three defenders still have a world of improvement left to make, they have quickly changed the Icecats from a program known for its lack of depth to a team full of potential from top to bottom.

With a long way to go before they are considered great collegiate players, the depth that the trio brings to the Icecats is more than enough for now.

“”The core group of defenseman from last year with the addition of these new guys, there’s six guys right there,”” Schupan said. “”We have other guys that can fill in, too. It’s really exciting to see.””

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