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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Icecats impress in Ohio

A 2-3 overall record may not sound like grounds for excitement, but considering the chaotic start to the Arizona Icecats’ season, winning two out of three on the road in Youngstown, Ohio, is a step in the right direction.

“”Any time you can go 2,500 miles away from home and win two of three, you can’t be disappointed,”” said head coach Leo Golembiewski. “”They did a heck of a job.””

For West Coast hockey teams like the Icecats, the purpose of the American Club Hockey Association Showcase is to prove to the East Coast teams and coaches that they can play.

In three games, that mission was accomplished.

In the showcase, the Icecats defeated Duquesne and Rutgers but lost to Stony Brook. If the two wins weren’t enough, the Icecat offense caught the attention of their East Coast counterparts by netting 17 goals in three games.

“”We showed our speed, our offensive prowess and our ability to attack the net,”” Golembiewski said. “”(The ACHA) saw what Icecat hockey is.””

The Icecats offensive efficiency had a lot to do with the return of three front-line players: junior co-captain Jordan Schupan, senior defenseman Austin Capobianco and sophomore forward Jeff Back.

Their presence was most felt in Sunday’s 8-4 win over Rutgers. Schupan and Capobianco each posted three goals and three assists, a feat known in the hockey world as a “”playmaker.””

Arizona allowed an early power play goal but regrouped with three unanswered scores.

Sophomore defenseman Geordy Weed and Capobianco each scored in the second period, followed by Schupan’s third goal of the day. Capobianco added two more third-period goals to wrap up his first career hat trick as an Icecat.

Throughout the three games, Schupan and Capobianco scored seven of the team’s 17 goals and brought a sense of identity back to the team.

“”When you add your veterans to the mix, they bring that style element that the younger players don’t know,”” Golembiewski said. “”We have definitely improved with the return of some players.””

Schupan and Capobianco’s combined seven points were huge throughout the tournament, but the unexpected lift came from 18-year-old freshman forward Brian Slugocki.

In the team’s first game against Duquesne, Slugocki saw a slew of opportunities while playing on a line with Schupan and freshman forward Scotty Willson. That line made the best of its opportunities, accounting for six of the team’s eight goals.

“”That line was a real good mixture,”” Golembiewski said. “”They used each other very well and they banged the net.””

The Icecats gave up two power play goals in the first period, but scored three goals in a 90-second span to take a 3-1 lead. The Icecats continued to pile it on, and Slugocki scored four goals en route to an 8-5 victory.

Slugocki was certainly a pleasant surprise for the Wildcats, finishing the showcase with five goals and three assists.

“”I knew he was a solid player, but I don’t know that I expected him to put as many pucks in the net as he did,”” said assistant coach Dave Dougall. “”His shot was on, that’s for sure.

“”He reads the ice well and he skates well,”” Dougall added. “”He played the way we want him to. He has one of the best attributes for our team, which is speed.””

The Icecats’ success in the first game didn’t transfer over in game two against Stony Brook. They took themselves out of contention early by way of seven first-period penalties.

The Icecats were down 3-0 after one period, and were never able to mount a comeback.

Willson netted a goal and the Icecats played Stony Brook even for the last two periods, but the early goals led to a 4-1 Icecats loss.

The Icecats finished the showcase with a 2-1 record and left Youngstown with a ton of confidence. Their 2-3 overall record may not look good on paper, but the Icecats are almost back to full strength and have high hopes for the rest of the season.

“”I think they believe more in themselves and the team,”” Dougall said. “”We have a team that can compete with anyone on the ice.””

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