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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Arena ice revamped for big Icecat series

    Tucson Convention Center staff members have been busy trying to improve the ice as they prepare for what could be the biggest series of the year for the No. 11 Arizona club hockey team, when it plays No. 4 Oklahoma tonight and tomorrow night at 7:30.

    The ice, which was problematic over the weekend during the ASU series, has been worked on all week in hopes of drastically improving its condition.

    “”The ice is a lot harder than last weekend,”” said Arizona assistant coach Dave Dougall. “”It still has problems, but it’s getting better.””

    On Nov. 3 the ice was too soft to skate on, causing a 45-minute delay, but on Saturday the ice was bumpy after the crew tried spot-fixing the ice during the day.

    With a week to prepare the ice, the crew and the Icecats (7-2) have been testing it in preparation for a series against the highest-ranked team the Icecats will play all season in the Sooners (13-0), according to current rankings.

    “”They’re a lot more physical than ASU,”” said junior defenseman Max Sliwinski. “”They like to clutch and grab.””

    The Icecats will again be without sophomore defenseman Kevin West, who is out with a separated shoulder.

    According to the coaches, West is not allowed to skate at all until at least Wednesday, when he’ll likely be able to skate without contact. If that goes well, he may return to practice by the end of the week.

    “”We’re hoping to have him back for next weekend’s series against Liberty,”” Dougall said.

    West was a key part of the defense for the Icecats, and it will be up to some of the younger defensemen to fill the gap left by his absence.

    The Icecats will also rely on junior goalie Luke Edwall, who has been the anchor of a solid defense with a sparkling 2.62 goals against average.

    The Icecat offense, which has been led by the play of junior center Craig Irwin and his team-leading 10 goals, will have to find a way to score goals against one of the best goalies in the American Collegiate Hockey Association.

    Oklahoma has had almost perfect play from their senior goalie, Aaron Schmeilski, who holds a 1.14 GAA in 420 minutes of play this season.

    “”We’re going up against a team that deserves to be No. 1 this year,”” said Icecats head coach Leo Golembiewski. “”This is probably one of the biggest series of the year, just like in baseball it’s important to win the April and May games, because if you don’t it’ll come back to haunt you in October.””

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