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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Icecats close out season vs. Texas Tech

    The old adage give credit where credit is due apparently doesn’t ring true for the American Collegiate Hockey Association.

    The final rankings came out last week and the No. 22 Arizona men’s club hockey team couldn’t crack the top 16 despite notching 20 wins and tallying only eight losses to go along with one tie on the season.

    Despite the Icecats missing out on nationals, they’ll wrap up their season Friday and Saturday night against Texas Tech (25-11-3) at the Tucson Convention Center and plan on going out in style.

    “”It’s disconcerting because we’ve been national champions before,”” said UA head coach Leo Golembiewski. “”We’ve been to nine final fours and 10 elite eights, so the history and tradition of the Icecats is well known. It’s frustrating as a coach to see my seniors not go to nationals. But, what can you do?””

    Ten teams ranked ahead of the Icecats have more losses, four teams ahead of them have fewer wins and one team ranked ahead of them actually has a losing record (No. 20 Central Oklahoma, 14-17-4). Arizona boasts the ACHA’s third highest assist man in junior Matt Conover (37) and fourth most prolific goal scorer in junior Robbie Nowinski (37), so the fact that Arizona will miss the postseason is puzzling to both coaches and players.

    “”I think we’re definitely one of the top 16 teams in the league. Putting up 20 wins isn’t easy,”” said senior Scott Marshall. “”We showed we could play with the teams in the East. It’s really ridiculous (that we didn’t make nationals). I guess other teams are jealous because we have the most fans and go to school in paradise and I think that plays into it.””

    Arizona’s resume should constitute a top 16 ranking based on the quality of some of its wins. The Icecats split two-game series against defending ACHA Division I national champions No. 12 Oakland University (Michigan) and defending ACHA Division II champions Michigan State as well as a win over No. 16 Stony Brook in the ACHA Showcase in October.

    “”We haven’t had much respect from around the league (all year),”” Nowinski said. “”Maybe it’s the way we play and the way we beat teams. Maybe they just don’t like us. I’m not really sure what it is.””

    Part of the problem could be a lack of visibility since there are only three ACHA Division I teams in the West (Arizona, ASU and Weber State). ASU and Weber State both had poor seasons this year, which hurt Arizona due to what the ACHA apparently considered a poor strength of schedule.

    “”It’s kind of setting in now that this is it,”” senior Craig Irwin said of the Icecats season-ending series against the Red Raiders. “”We’ll be playing our hardest, and it’s (the seniors) last two games ever so we’ll be playing just as hard as if we were in
    the playoffs.””

    The series versus the Red Raiders should be just as physical and intense as the last time these teams hooked up when Arizona won one game and tied the other in Lubbock, Texas. This time around, anything less than a sweep would be disappointing for the Icecats who enter the game on a six game win streak and have won nine of their last 10 games overall.

    “”Being my last game, I’m gonna leave everything out there that I possible can. I’ve been playing the game my whole life so it’s gonna be hard for me,”” Marshall said. “”It’ll be hard saying goodbye to game. I’ll skate hard for the seniors and try and go out on top. To go out with 22 wins, I mean, how can that look bad?””

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