Icecats getting chance to take shots at Golembiewski

By Monty Phan

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Picture it: the commercial features your favorite Arizona Icecat, steadily skating his way to the net on a penalty shot that could decide the game.

The voice-over: "Yeah, my SportsCenter highlight goes like this: tie game, sudden death overtime. Coach G. is in the net. And I ... start ... skating. (A close-up on Monty Phan's face, notepad in hand, up against the glass.) Not now Monty, I'm gonna be a hero. I pull back and let 'er fly. Coach's eyes go wide. The buzzer sounds, and as the announcer finishes, the crowd starts in, 'He shoots ... He scores!'"

Well, Saturday night's exhibition game featuring the Icecats against the Chicago Blackhawk alumni team may not be that dramatic, but it should be fun to watch. The game will benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and features Icecat head coach Leo Golembiewski in the pads protecting, he hopes, the Blackhawk goal.

"We've been working real hard. For the first time in 15 years I got out on the ice and put the pads on," Golembiewski said. "I've enjoyed it so much it's scary."

The game is at 7:30 tomorrow night at the Tucson Convention Center.

Fifteen Blackhawk alumni, including Hall-of-Famers Stan Mikita and Dennis Hull, will square off against the Icecats, led by two guest co-coaches, former Arizona governor Rose Mofford and Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnick.

Needless to say, Golembiewski is not taking this lightly.

"First we worked on reflexes, then we worked on angles," he said. "We've been trying to average about 200-to-250 shots on goal per practice. Obviously, the biggest problem is positioning."

In addition to the alumni game, this year marks the 10th Annual Leo Golembiewski Celebrity Golf Classic, which also benefits the MDA. The cause, incidentally, is Golembiewski's biggest concern.

"The only reason why I'm doing this is for muscular dystrophy," he said.

Co-coach of the alumni team, Glenn Hall, has been working with his "star" (in Tucson, at least) goaltender to help him prepare for the big night. Hall, a goalie himself from 1957 to 1967 with Chicago, worked hard to get the team together.

"Like I say, it was Glenn Hall's idea to do this," Golembiewski said. "We pretty much put together this team over the summer."

Golembiewski contends he's in shape and can't wait to frustrate his players, who include right wing Greg Mitchell, defenseman Joel Nussbaum, defenseman John Muntz, left wing Peter Scott, center Kevin Oztekin, center Steve Hutchings and defenseman Jeremy Goltz.

"I'm ready," contends the "visitors" goalie. "I was ready when Glenn Hall said to me way back in April, 'Why don't you put the pads on?'"

Golembiewski said he is grateful for how supportive his Icecats have been in preparation for the contest.

"Their attitude has been so professional, I'm so proud of these kids," he said.

While keeping in mind the game is for a good cause, the players still seized the moment to give their coach a good ribbing.

"Should be my first hat trick of the season," quipped Mitchell.

Putting it mildy, Golembiewski said: "I'm sure when the Icecats take the ice Saturday night, they're going to want to take a shot at Coach."

A former player at Illinois Benedectine of the Midwest Intercollegiate Hockey League and with the St. Louis Blues, Golembiewski has been coach of the Icecats since the club was created in 1979. He has almost single-handedly established the team as a fixture in the Tucson community, winning the national club championship in 1985. Arizona has been competitive every year Golembiewski has been coach.

As always, though, Golembiewski knows how to put the night in proper perspective.

"There isn't anything I wouldn't do for those too-many wonderful young people who have unfortunately been stricken with this tragic disease. Playing a little goaltending is a minor effort finding a cure for MD is a major venture."

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