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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Empty handed in Colorado

After a 14-hour bus trip to Fort Collins, Colo., to take on Colorado State, followed by another two-hour drive to Boulder, Colo., to face off with the University of Colorado last weekend, an injury-riddled Arizona Icecats team returned to Tucson empty handed.

The Icecats (12-16) were missing four key players — including two of the team’s three leading scorers, sophomore Brady Lefferts and junior Jordan Schupan — and stepped onto the ice without practicing for the three weeks prior due to zero ice time at the Tucson Convention Center. The lack of depth and practice time certainly showed on the ice, as the UA club hockey team was swept once and outscored 10-3 on the weekend.

“”It was a situation where we were pretty much undermanned all weekend,”” said head coach Leo Golembiewski. “”That was probably the most gigantic difference in the whole weekend, that combined with bus trips and skating in the Mile High. It was a tough weekend for the guys.””

All season long it has been early goals, ample injuries and lack of ice time that has slowed the Icecats, and this weekend was no different. The team found itself in the penalty box 38 seconds into the Friday night game versus Colorado State and the Rams jumped out to a 3-0 lead after one period.

“”Our first period is where we struggle the most,”” said senior Austin Capobianco. “”I guess you could say we were intimidated the first period in each game. Their one goal to set the tone is to come out and hit and be physical.””

The Icecats couldn’t match that physicality early on but finally got on the board late in the first period with a goal from freshman Adam Treptow.

They cut the deficit to make it 4-3 early in the third period behind two consecutive shorthanded goals from Treptow and Capobianco, who was playing out of position as a forward due to the number of injured offensive players.

The Icecats had a number of chances late in the game to tie it up, but the Rams put the game on ice as they found the back of the net with three minutes remaining.

“”The lack of practice really showed this weekend,”” Golembiewski said. “”We were able to get away with it (last weekend against Weber State), but it definitely showed with trying to get our legs under us early.””

The Icecats played well in the second and third periods in Fort Collins, but that success didn’t translate over to Boulder against Colorado. The Buffaloes made easy work of the Icecats, shutting them out for the second time in three meetings this season by a score of 5-0. Colorado goalie Kevin Litinsky, who completed a 51-save shutout in Tucson against the Icecats in mid-November, stopped everything that came his way.

“”They have a really, really solid goaltender,”” Capobianco said. “”(Brian) Slugocki was stoned on a couple of breakaways, the goalie made a few big saves on me. We couldn’t get that first one by him. We were all very, very frustrated.””

The Icecats had a chance to get back to .500 with a pair of victories, but due to injuries and inconsistent play, they were unable to capitalize.

“”Our situation … with all of the injuries, it’s been tough,”” Capobianco said. “”We go into every game, no matter who we’re playing, as the underdog because of the lack of depth.””

The team will now have a week off from games, but will practice for the first time in nearly a month next week in preparation for the season-finale series against ASU at the Tucson Convention Center on Feb. 26 and 27.

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