Icecats face Iowa St., Ice Devils loom next

By Craig Degel
Arizona Daily Wildcat
February 28, 1996

Today starts the race to be the champions of the American Collegiate Hockey Association.

Gentlemen, start your engines.

The tournament, held on the campus of defending champion Ohio University at Bird Arena in Athens, Ohio, begins today with the first of three round-robin games for the eight teams involved.

The third-ranked Arizona Icecats (22-6-1) will face No. 6 Iowa State at 11 a.m. Tucson time. The Icecats defeated the Cyclones twice this year at the Tucson Convention Center, 8-5 and 9-2.

The Icecats will skate with 11 freshmen on their roster. But since the Icecats have been to every tournament since its inception in 1981, the team is not short of playoff experience.

"There are other teams with 11 freshmen, but they sure as hell aren't the No. 3 seed in the national tournament," Icecat head coach Leo Golembiewski said matter-of-factly.

This year for the first time, 10 teams were invited to the tournament with the top six getting byes into the round-robin portion. The teams ranked seventh through 10th faced off yesterday in wild-card games to determine the final two teams in the field.

No. 9 Arizona State, making its first-ever appearance in the tournament, knocked off No. 8 Towson State 7-1 yesterday. So, by virtue of No. 10 Delaware's 7-6 upset over No. 7 West Virginia in yesterday's late game, the Ice Devils will join the Icecats bracket and the two teams will face each other Thursday at 8 a.m. Delaware will join a bracket that includes No. 1 Ohio, No. 4 Eastern Michigan and No. 5 Michigan-Dearborn.

The meeting will be the seventh of the year for the in-state rivals. The Ice Devils broke a 64-game losing streak to the Icecats with a 4-1 win in Tempe Jan. 27. Last weekend, the Icecats earned a 4-1 win and a 4-4 tie in Tucson. In December, the Icecats swept ASU at the TCC.

"I don't want to talk about that (playing ASU) right now," Golembiewski said after the two teams skated to the tie Saturday. "We're worried about Wednesday and Iowa State."

The Icecats' bracket also includes No. 2 Penn State. The Nittany Lions were last year's national runners-up. The two teams are no strangers to each other in tournament play. The Icecats gained their first and only national title with a come-from-behind 5-3 victory over Penn State in 1985.