By Brett Fera
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday January 24, 2003
The No. 7 Arizona Icecats swept the No. 11 Saint Louis Billikens just three short weeks ago, but according to UA head coach Leo Golembiewski, the Icecats are anticipating a much more challenging match-up this time around.
The Icecats (15-4) defeated Saint Louis in back-to-back games on Jan. 3 and Jan. 4, 4-2 and 2-1, respectively.
"This is going to definitely be a lot tougher in their barn," Golembiewski said. "From their standpoint, they have to beat us. They are pretty physical and we anticipate two tough games."
Golembiewski and the rest of the Icecats can rest a little easier, however, knowing that goaltender Bryan Aronchick has played his best hockey since the new year, and does not look to be slowing down any time soon.
"Bryan is not only talented, but very coachable," Golembiewski said. "He has been the key for us over the last three weeks, no question about it."
Aronchick has allowed just 12 goals in six games since the team returned from the winter break, including an 8-0 shutout last Friday against Robert Morris College, a victory that helped Golembiewski earn the 500th win of his career.
Up front for the Icecats, senior Matt Naylor has been on fire all season, netting four goals and five assists last weekend against Robert Morris. Naylor leads Arizona with 43 points in just 19 games so far this season.
Shaun Brooks has been the hottest goal scorer for the Icecats, leading the team with 20 goals so far this season, 11 of which have come in the last six games. Brooks had two hat tricks during that six game stretch.
The lone setback for the Icecats as of late hasn't been in the rink, but in the classroom. Both sophomore forward Mickey Meehan and junior defenseman Braden Koprivica have been ruled academically ineligible. Meehan is still second on the team stat sheet in goals scored with 15, despite sitting both games versus Robert Morris.
Despite losing Koprivica, the defensive unit who has played so brilliantly since a 6-5 loss to Arizona State on December 7, the Icecats should be in good shape, as freshman defenseman Mike Pelletier and senior captain Bill Pardue have established themselves as the definite keys to the Icecats' blueline corps.
With junior Keith Mitchell back from an injury he suffered against ASU and junior Dan Whitlock picking up some of the slack, Golembiewski doesn't expect to see any dropoff from the defensive unit this weekend.
"We have brought solid defensive hockey to the table during the past six games," Golembiewski said. "We definitely want to keep that going against a good Saint Louis team."