By Larry Mullenix
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Some people think of change as something they would rather avoid, but for Icecat defenseman Chris Noga, change allowed him the opportunity to display his abilities on the ice.
Coming out of Saint Rita High School in Chicago, Noga was recruited by Arizona club hockey team coach Leo Golembiewski as a forward, but it was obvious by his second season that a change needed to be made.
"I knew that we had to do something for Chris because he is such a powerful skater that it doesn't make sense for us not to have him on the front line somewhere," Golembiewski said of Noga's change from forward to defenseman.
Noga also knew the change would be in the team's best interest.
"I knew that we were really strong in the front line and that it would be difficult for me to break into it," he said. "I had spoken with some of the guys in front and they wanted me back there because they knew that I could get them the puck when and where they needed it.
"At first it was sort of unusual, but I knew that it would be," Noga added, "but the first time you do anything new it is going to be awkward at first."
The change has been good for the team as well.
"He has enhanced his abilities and thus that helps us out as a team," Golembiewski said. "Chris has done amazingly well with the change."
The change is almost complete now and must be considered a success. Noga was selected as alternate captain for this year's team.
"He has done great with the whole change," Golembiewski said. "I think that it is apparent that the rest of the team thinks so too because with him being named as alternate captain for this season."
Noga was both shocked and pleased with being named as the alternate.
"I really didn't think that I had a chance because I'm an underclassman and these honors usually go to seniors," Noga said. "I think that it is a great honor for me now but that this will also help the team next year to have a player who has been a leader before."
Noga expects to have an impressive season this year.
"I am hoping to have a solid year and be able to contribute to helping the team win," he said.
"Chris has been shooting the puck very well from the point and as always he is showing us his skills as a strong skater," the Icecat coach said.
Noga is also an academic leader off the ice and he attributes this to a very dedicated daily regimen of studying.
Golembiewski believes his off-the-ice acomplishments are something that are just as important as what he does on the ice.
"Our program focuses just as much on the academic side as on the athletic side, and I feel Chris is one of our best students," Golembiewski said. "That says a great deal for our program as well as Chris himself."
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