Icecats begin play in ACHA tournament
Beginning its search for a second national title, the Icecats head to Minot, N.D. this weekend to begin the American Collegiate Hockey Association tournament.
First up for the Icecats is Wisconsin-Whitewater and Michigan-Dearborn, which are both familiar foes to Arizona.
Michigan-Dearborn defeated Arizona at the beginning of last year's ACHA tournament, while Wisconsin-Whitewater traveled to Tucson and was swept in consecutive games last season.
"Wisconsin we haven't seen all year, but they have improved a ton since we last played them, so we really don't know what to expect from them," Icecats defenseman and co-captain Tyler Brush said. "But we know that can't take them lightly. Playing Dearborn is bittersweet, since they basically ended our season last year."
Michigan-Dearborn (22-8-2) comes into the tournament ranked No. 3, but the Icecats coaching staff said they may be underrated.
"Dearborn should probably be a No. 2 team, they are always physical and play tough," Icecats head coach Leo Golembiewski said.
Wisconsin-Whitewater (15-14-0) comes into the tournament for the first time in school history. The Warhawks have improved from one of the worst ACHA teams to a top team in one season.
Although the Icecats have the best record among teams in the tournament, the team is ranked No. 6 because of their relatively easy strength of schedule, having only faced Delaware and Penn State among teams in the tournament.
Arizona also took four of six against Arizona State, which was invited to the tournament but declined due to financial problems. But the criticism is welcome for the Icecat players.
"If teams think we are the underdog, we thrive on that. I hope that people underestimate us, and think we have a weak schedule, more power to us," Brush said.
The Icecats face Wisconsin-Whitewater today at 1 p.m., then take on Michigan-Dearborn tomorrow at the same time.
The tournament has 12 teams entered, with the winner of each of the four pools moving on to the semi-finals on Saturday. The winner of those two matches face each other for the championship Sunday afternoon.
But the Icecats must win both games to have any hope of moving on to the semi-finals. The coaching staff seemed confident of the team's readiness
"As long as we are hitting on all cylinders, we can play with anyone," Golembiewski said.
"We will be ready to take on all comers," Brush said. "With our speed, we can take them."