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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Midwest showcase will dictate Icecats season

The Arizona Icecats will take on No. 16 Duquesne (0-1) today in Youngstown, Ohio, for the first of three games at the all-important American Club Hockey Association Division-I Showcase.

Following the matchup with Duquesne, the Icecats (0-2) will play No. 14 Stony Brook (0-0) on Saturday and Rutgers (2-3) on Sunday.

Coming off of a disappointing two-game sweeping at the hands of rival Arizona State, the Icecats need to bounce back and show the ACHA that they are better than their 0-2

record suggests.

“”We have to go 3 and 0, that’s our goal,”” said senior defenseman and co-captain Zach Cherney. “”It doesn’t matter where we are playing or who we’re playing, we need three wins.””

While a few extra notches in the win column are clearly a plus, the Icecats have one main objective for the showcase: to prove to the teams and coaches of the ACHA that they are there to play.

“”We have a chance to show people in the east what this year’s team is comprised of,”” said coach Leo Golembiewski. “”We hope to show them that we’re a premier hockey team like we have been for 30 years.””

This weekend is the only time the Icecats will make a trip out to the Midwest — where the majority of the teams in the ACHA are based. As the 55 ACHA coaches decide the 16 teams that will go to nationals, the Icecats clearly need to impress.

“”It’s really critical for the season,”” said assistant coach Dave Dougall. “”The way the system is set up, you need to have a good showing there. If you lose three, you’re pretty much doomed.””

The Icecats’ chances of a good showing drastically improved earlier this week when three of their top players were cleared for competition.

Co-captain Jordan Schupan and senior defenseman Austin Capobianco will both be returning to the lineup after a battle with pneumonia. Both frontline players are not exactly 100 percent, but their leadership and positive impact on both sides of the ice should bode well for the Icecats.

“”As returning players they have the experience and have been relied on for the past couple of years,”” Dougall said, “”I expect them to bolster the opportunities we have, especially offensively.””

Freshman forward Jeff Back will also return for the showcase after missing the ASU series due to swine flu. Back is expected to come in and improve the offensive attack that was a non-factor in Tempe last weekend.

Unfortunately, the Icecats will again be without sophomore’s Brady Lefferts (hip), Nick Bach (sick) and Blake Richards (shoulder).

Much like last weekend at ASU, the Icecats will have to make do with what they have, as a couple of losses at the showcase could severely hurt postseason chances.

Golembiewski’s club has missed nationals each of the last three seasons, but an impressive showcase is the first step to ending that postseason drought.

This much is known: the showcase is critical, the team needs to play its best hockey and Schupan, Back and Capobianco are all returning. Now it is just a matter of putting the pieces together and executing.

“”We need to play a more disciplined game,”” Dougall said. “”If we minimize our mistakes, the wins will take care of themselves.””

 

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