By Larry Mullenix
Arizona Daily Wildcat
After coming off their most impressive series sweep of the year against the formerly unbeaten Colorado State Rams, the Arizona Icecats (9-0) are ready to sink their teeth into South Dakota for a series tonight and tommorow night at 7:30 at the Tucson Convention Center.
This series is important to the Arizona club hockey team because it is its first series after a week off for the Thanksgiving break. The Icecats hope to put another impressive performance together.
“We are not neccesarily concerned with our opponent this weekend or any other because our philosophy is to make sure we play solid, fundamental hockey everytime we go out on the ice,” Coach Leo Golembiewski said.
The Icecats have had terrific play from seniors Ricky Pope and Steve Hutchings the last two weekends. Pope was named the Most Valuable Player in the Friday night victory over the Rams, and Hutchings’ six-goal, three-assist performance Saturday was good enough to earn him M.V.P. honors in the finale.
“I think Ricky and Steve played fantastic in our last series but I think that I was more impressed that we had a complete team effort, which led to us being dominating,” Golembiewski said.
Sam Battaglia, who missed the series against Colorado State due to a separated shoulder, will return to the lineup this weekend, and Golembiewski expects him to fit right back into the swing of things.
This series may be overshadowed by some fanfare, should Golembiewski earn his 300th win as Icecat coach Saturday.
Golembiewski currently has 298 wins, and a win tonight means he can reach the milestone tomorrow night. He believes the most important thing will be for his team to reach 11-0, but understands the hype regarding him reaching the plateau.
“I am ready for this win for myself but I think that I must give a lot of the credit for my record to the great kids who have played for me in the past 16 seasons,” he said. “I’m especially pleased with this year’s edition of the Icecats. I think that 11-0 is more important right now than 300 is.”
If the level of intensity at practice is any sign of what’s to come, then the Coyotes may be in for a tough weekend.
“We have had great practices thus far this week and we expect to really come out and show who is the fifth-ranked team in the country,” Golembiewski said. “Hard work is something that has to be all the time, you can’t just do it at the game, it starts on the ice during practice and ends with the the team getting a victory.”
Looking ahead, the UA faces cross-state rival Arizona State next Friday and Saturday night.
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The Icecats used the Thanksgiving break as an opportunity to bond together as a team.
Monday night, the team gathered together to watch Michael Jordan continue his baseball career with the Scottsdale Scorpions. Golembiewski met with Jordan after the game and presented him with an official Icecats jersey and a game puck.
“I was really impressed with him in the sense that with all the things he has accomplished he is still down to earth,” Golembiewski said of his brief meeting with Jordan.
The team enjoyed the day together and helped improve the players’ chemistry.
“We get along together remarkably well,” Golembiewski said. “I believe that everyone really likes each other and this game gave them another chance to hang out as a team.”
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