Arizona Daily Wildcat
Icecats favored to win conference despite youth
The crowd at the Tucson Convention Center - better known during hockey season as "The Madhouse on Main Street" - chants in unison:
"He shoots, he scores. Hey Goalie...You suck!"
This is Icecats hockey.
The Arizona Icecats, UA's club collegiate hockey team, have experienced great success over the past 21 seasons.
Since their inception in 1979 by head coach and founder Leo Golembiewski, the Icecats have won a national championship, been national runners-up four times and have yet to finish lower than 7th nationally in their 18 consecutive appearances at the American Collegiate Hockey Association's tournament.
The Icecats open their season tomorrow at St. Louis against the St. Louis University Billikens, a team that is ranked 15th in the pre-season coaches poll.
"St. Louis has definitely improved," Brush said. "They started off as a weaker team, but over the last couple of years they got a lot of guys and they've really improved. I don't think that 15th ranking is a good determinant of what that team has to offer."
After this weekend's road trip, the Icecats will return to TCC for their home opener Friday night against Colorado.
Senior left winger Paul Dorn is excited for the season to start.
"I expect a strong team this year," he said. "(We're) a little better team than we had last year. We've got to live up to our ranking too. It starts this weekend, proving that."
There is a palpable sense of excitement this season.
This year's Icecats are ranked fourth by coaches in an ACHA poll and will bring expectations of another national championship to the ice.
The Icecats, already favorites to win the ACHA, will have another advantage this season - the team will host the league's national championship tournament.
"I personally would be kind of disappointed if - in my last year - I did not win nationals," senior co-captain Marc Harris said.
"We've tried every year, and we haven't quite got that last goal. We should have won it last year, in my opinion. This year we have a better team, so if everyone skates their hardest, I cannot see how it cannot be possible. My job this year at nationals is to make sure I execute and get the job done."
The Icecats have an equal mixture of new faces and grizzled veterans - the 2000 Icecats team has 15 returning players and 15 who have never played for the team before.
There are just four seniors on the team.
"We feel good about this year because we've got a great group of kids," Golembiewski said.
"We have only four seniors, but they're very significant seniors. (Paul) Dorn and Marc Harris, Eddie Carfora and Ty Brush are great leaders. They're very good hockey players. But the bottom line is if you want to compete for a national championship, you've got to have depth and we're working towards that."