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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    ‘Duel in the Desert’ hits ice for last time this year

    Icecats forward Jordan Schupan battles for the puck with ASUs Joe Ahern in the Tucson Convention Center on Dec. 7. Schupan also scored a goal in the Icecats 3-0 win.
    Icecats forward Jordan Schupan battles for the puck with ASU’s Joe Ahern in the Tucson Convention Center on Dec. 7. Schupan also scored a goal in the Icecats’ 3-0 win.

    After notching its fourth series sweep of the season in a solid performance against ASU last weekend in Tempe, the No. 24 Arizona men’s club hockey team still has a shot at the postseason if it keeps its current hot streak alive.

    The roadblock this week is the exact same one as last week, but the Icecats (16-8-1) don’t think the Sun Devils (9-14-2) will be the same speed bump it has been so far this season when they square off for the third time in seven days and seventh time overall this year.

    “”Every time we play ASU you can throw the baby out with the bath water,”” said Icecats head coach Leo Golembiewski. “”The records don’t mean anything. They really want to beat us bad because we’ve beaten them five out of six time this season.

    “”We have an outside chance to perhaps make nationals if we win out, and it’s ASU, so we’re obviously going to take these games very seriously. We have a little bigger rink than the (Alltel) Ice Den so the speed of play will be a little quicker and that will be to ASU’s advantage because they’re a pretty quick team.””

    One thing the Icecats do have going for them is a relatively healthy lineup. Arizona co-captain Craig Irwin will return to the ice after missing the past three series with a groin injury, and defender Evan Marro returns from his suspension for getting his second disqualification of the year against Oakland University (Michigan) two weeks ago.

    Irwin said he’s ready to go and can’t wait to hit the ice, especially because it’s his last opportunity to play against their
    fiercest rivals.

    “”I was (talking to my teammates) yesterday (and said) I really hope I can put some goals in the net this weekend,”” Irwin said. “”Obviously I want the team to win, but if I can put a few in that’d be nice.””

    But for every up there is a down. Forward Matt Conover, the team’s second leading scorer, is nursing a tender shoulder and won’t quite play at 100 percent.

    Golembiewski said the defensive tandems he used last week – Max Sliwinksi and Zack Stommen, Austin Capobianco and Devon Brady, Zach Samson and Zach Cherney – was a big part of the team’s 2-0 shutout against ASU last Friday and expects the solid defensive play to continue.

    Another big part of last weekend’s sweep against ASU, besides the amazing 57-save performance of goalie Nick Boddy, was great Arizona special teams play. Arizona went 2-for-8 on its powerplays and limited the Sun Devils to one goal in 17 tries on ASU man advantages.

    With the addition of Marro and the added scoring threat of Irwin, assistant coach Dave Dougall said the Icecats should be back to their usual high-flying style.

    “”I thought we played really well last weekend (when we were shorthanded) especially on Friday and then we gutted one out on Saturday,”” Dougall said. “”As long as we don’t get caught up in the emotion of it all and play disciplined hockey we should perform well.””

    But emotions always play a big role in rivalry games, especially when it’s the last time the teams will meet in a season.

    “”When you beat up on a team multiple times it definitely creates some animosity,”” Sliwinski said. “”It makes it fun because it’s fun to play a team that’s amped up to beat us. These are my last two ASU games and I’d love to see us beat them the final two times. There was a lot of animosity when we were up (in Tempe) last time so I won’t be surprised if there’s any fights.””

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