By Craig Degel
Arizona Daily Wildcat
With just nine days to go before the start of the American Collegiate Hockey Association championships, Icecat coach Leo Golembiewski is seeing just what he needs to see from his team ─ good performances across the board.
The Icecats completed a two-game sweep of Navy Saturday night with a convincing 9-2 victory. Arizona won Friday night 7-1.
"I thought we had some good performances across the boards," Golembiewski said. "We had to be more aggressive with the puck and not cough it up."
Saturday night, seven different Icecats found the back of the net.
Mark Thawley opened the flood gates with a goal off a Sam Battaglia-Nate Soules assist combo at the 4:39 mark in the first period.
Soules, who got another assist on Steve Hutchings' second goal of the game, left the ice in the third period and was taken to the University Medical Center for stitches after his left ear was sliced by a skate.
Hutchings tallied his first goal off the assist tandem of Greg Mitchell and Chris Noga at 13:48 to give the Icecats a 2-0 cushion at the first intermission.
It was apparent from early in the series that the Midshipmen had done their homework. For much of each game, Navy would flash a defenseman high to cut down on the breakaways that the Icecats are so accustomed to scoring off of.
"Dropping a guy back virtually negates your offense," Golembiewski said of Navy's offensive chances.
At the 4:23 mark of the second period, John Muntz put a shot through the legs of Navy goalie John Bruzza to make it 3-0.
The Icecats scored again at 6:32 of the second when Ricky Pope stopped a clearing pass in the Navy zone and fed Geoff Neidenbach, who finished the scoring play. Hutchings' second goal, with :03 on the clock, gave the Icecats a 5-0 lead.
Thawley got his second goal of the night off of a Neidenbach-Joe Joyce assist combo just :37 seconds into the third period.
Navy scored its first goal when Nate Denman fed Brian Erickson for the power play goal at 3:13 in the third.
Greg Mitchell scored off a Kevin Oztekin pass at 11:45. The goal was just one of six power play goals the Icecats scored on the evening.
Just nine seconds later, before the Icecat faithful could finish berating Bruzza, Ryan Rockabrand scored off pass-
es from Brian Consolino and Kip Holmes.
Denman and Erickson combined for Navy's second goal of the game at 15:11, and Oztekin closed the scoring with a goal off a Kiva Gippo assist at 17:15.
Navy played with a discipline not normally seen by the Icecats. Golembiewski said that speed and quickness are his teams forté, but it's no secret that the Icecats can play rough-and-tumble hockey when the need arises. But Navy would have no part of it.
Navy's strategy might have worked if it wasn't for two great nights by Icecat goalie Dennis Hands. Hands, a senior, saved 46 shots during the two-game series.
"I was going to start (Icecat back-up goalie Joel) Hilshey in the second game," Golembiewski said. "But Dennis was just so hot."
Before Friday night's game, Navy SEAL commandos invaded the Tucson Convention Center from the roof, but Navy was quickly driven back by Icecat scoring commando Steve Hutchings. Hutchings got the first of his three goals with just 37 seconds gone in the first period. Five other Icecats lit the lamp for the 7-1 final.
Read Next Article