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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Three Icecat frosh tapping into talent

    During the first month of the Arizona Icecats’ (5-8) season, the inconsistency that came along with playing 17 freshman hockey players proved to be more of a burden than a success.

    But after more time on the ice, the newcomers are no longer the scapegoats during a rough stretch, but rather the X-factor during a three-game win streak.

    “”They’re a crucial part of the team’s success,”” said junior co-captain Jordan Schupan of the freshmen. “”They really stepped up this weekend and some of these young guys are really starting to find their place.””

    While inexperience outweighed talent for the first 10 games of the season, the skills of these Icecat newcomers have finally come full-circle.

    Icecat veterans were always adamant that it was simply a matter of time before the youngsters showed their worth. That time came two weeks ago for freshman center Adam Treptow.

    The 6-foot-2, 200-pound, 19-year-old out of Anchorage, Alaska, scored the eventual game-winner against the University of Colorado, giving the Icecats their first victory in five games.

    With the Icecats’ offense sputtering its way into a Nov. 20 game against Colorado State, Treptow again took matters into his own hands, posting his first collegiate hat trick en route to a 4-1 victory.

    “”I was struggling earlier in the season, but I’m putting the puck in the net more,”” Treptow said after the Colorado State game. “”I’ve always been a goal-scorer, but as a freshman it’s nice to get that first college hat trick.””

    Coming into the series, the Icecats had only scored seven goals in their previous five contests. But Treptow proved that with more time on the ice came a sense of comfort and with that sense of comfort came goals.

    “”It’s nice to see,”” said head coach Leo Golembiewski of Treptow’s success. “”We thought he was a very talented player coming in and he’s starting to show his wares.””

    While Treptow was a fairly celebrated recruit out of Alaska, less-touted freshman forward Brian Slugocki has been the biggest surprise for the Icecats this season.

    “”In tryouts, I think the last day was when we took notice of him,”” associate coach Dave Dougall said of Slugocki. “”At first he was kind of conservative, then I saw some of his moves and thought, ‘Well, this kid can play.'””

    Unlike Treptow, Slugocki made a name for himself early in the season, scoring four goals in the team’s first game at the American Collegiate Hockey Association Showcase over a month ago. But after the scoring outburst, the Scottsdale product was set back by a concussion at University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

    On Saturday Slugocki stepped up on the biggest stage and proved you don’t need to be a big recruit to have an impact on the ice. Slugocki scored three goals against the Rams, including a last-second, game-tying score and a shootout game-winning goal.

    Slugocki is now a front-line mainstay with the Icecats, and is currently tied for the team lead with 10 goals scored. What he’s doing at such a young age has been a sight to see.

    “”As a freshman, he’s certainly playing above and beyond his experience in years,”” Golembiewski said of the 18-year-old. “”He’s done a lot to show that he belongs on this team.””

    All it took was a little confidence, Dougall said.

    “”He told me he had sat on the bench last year with his other team,”” Dougall said. “”He didn’t get a lot of opportunities. Now he’s been thrown right into the first line with injuries right off the bat, and he’s flourished.””

    While Slugocki and Treptow have provided a much-needed scoring punch lately, the Icecats would be nowhere without the improved goaltending of 21-year-old freshman Dave Herman.

    Herman said he has been more focused in these last few games and is seeing the puck better than ever.

    “”I’ve just been focusing on playing hockey more than anything else,”” Herman said. “”I felt going into every game (as of late) that no one was going to score on me.””

    Herman has only given up five goals in his last three games and has given the Icecats the solid goaltending they so badly missed in the beginning of the season.

    “”Herman has really been stepping up,”” Schupan said. “”That goaltending has been huge, giving us a chance to win all of these games.””

    Whether it has been Treptow, Slugocki, Herman or other freshman standouts like defenseman Nick Stolz, the Icecat freshmen finally stopped being the excuse for mediocrity and started being the reason for success.

    “”A lot of the freshmen are stepping up,”” Dougall said. “”It had to happen if we wanted to do something this season, because to start off 2-8 is not a good position to be in. So you rely on those guys to perform and they did.””

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