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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Icecats kick off season

    After nearly a month of practices, the No. 23 Arizona men’s club hockey team will start its season today in the American Collegiate Hockey Association National Showcase in West Chester, Penn.

    The Icecats begin the season against three tough teams in No. 17 Robert Morris (PA), No. 15 West Virginia on Saturday and No. 4 Delaware on Sunday.

    Arizona is coming off a season with respectable 22-8-1 record, but it wasn’t enough to get the Icecats into the postseason, despite having a better record than some of the teams that did make it.

    Coming out of this weekend with success could make a difference in whether the team makes March’s national tournament in Ohio due to the seemingly biased voting at the end of the regular season. The majority of the 60 American Collegiate Hockey Association teams are on the East Coast, and in the last two years no West Coast teams have been chosen to participate in the tournament.

    Though the voting has been noticed, Icecats head coach Leo Golembiewski said he doesn’t want it to affect his team’s play.

    “”The voting has an East Coast and Midwest bias with most of the teams being East of the Mississippi (River),”” Golembiewski said. “”We need to focus on winning hockey games; we can’t worry about rankings.””

    Despite limited ice time at the Tucson Convention Center, the team is ready to get the season started and make a run at a national title after a two-year postseason absence.

    “”Our goal every year is to make nationals and perform well at nationals,”” said forward Matt Conover. “”We haven’t been to nationals since my freshman year, so we (the seniors) kind have a chip on our shoulders. We have to take it one game at a time.””

    The Icecats were looking to get through the season injury-free, but they couldn’t do that even before the start of the season.

    Starting goaltender Nick Boddy has missed practices with a sprained back and Conover is still recovering from a medial collateral ligament sprain. Both players are expected to play this weekend and avoid the pattern of injuries last season saw, Golembiewski said.

    The Icecats finished last season ranked No. 22, but it wasn’t enough to reach the ACHA tournament, which accepts the top 16 ranked teams at season’s end. Though preseason rankings have little bearing on the tournament selection at the end of the season, it is important for the Icecats that they are on voters’ minds early in the season, said assistant coach Dave Dougall.

    “”It’s important to be in the top 25 to get recognition and to stay ranked, due to the fact (that) it’s so hard to get back in rankings once you fall out,”” Dougall said. “”It is extremely important for us to do well this weekend in front of the people back East.””

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