By Larry Mullenix
Arizona Daily Wildcat
The Arizona club hockey team didn't get what it wanted as the culmination of a 26-2 regular season.
Not even close.
The Icecats finished in seventh place after losing all three of their games in the American Collegiate Hockey Association National Championship Tournament last weekend at the Tucson Convention Center.
After losing their American Collegiate Hockey Association National Championship Tournament opener to North Dakota State, the Icecats got a break when North Dakota State tied Ohio University keeping Arizona's dream of advancing to the finals alive, at least until they lost to seventh-seeded Michigan-Dearborn by the score of 3-2.
The Icecats followed that up by losing Friday night to Ohio 7-1.
In what was another close game, Dearborn used its size to take the Icecats out of their high speed passing game that dominated teams during the regular season.
But this wasn't the regular season.
The first period ended scoreless with both teams effectively feeling each other out. In what would be a good predictor of the final outcome, the Icecats were outshot 15-7.
The Icecats scored first in the second on a Sam Battaglia goal that was made possible by a pretty pass from behind the net that was placed right in front of the goaltender.
Dearborn got on the board less than a minute and a half later on a pass that went through the crease and the period ended at 1-1.
The third period did in the Icecats with Dearborn getting its second goal on a 60-foot slapshot that got by UA senior goaltender Dennis Hands.
Thirty seconds later the Icecats got their last goal on a sloppy play where seven or eight players were all fighting for the puck and Greg Mitchell got the loose puck.
The Icecats missed a couple of opportunities later in the period, the best scoring chance on a play in which Battaglia, on his knees with defenders all around passed to Nate Soules who failed to make enough contact to put it in.
With just over 17 minutes remaining in the third period, the Icecats finally saw their dreams of winning another championship die when a Michigan-Dearborn player deflected a shot into the net and Hands had no chance to save it. The Icecats claimed their only national title in 1985.
On Friday night, the Icecats were dominated from start to finish in their 7-1 loss to eventual champion Ohio.
The lone goal for the Icecats was tallied by Kevin Oztekin.
One sign of the domination was in the second period when the Icecats were outshot 22-6.
The national tournament could very well be considered a bitter disappointment for the Icecats. It was apparent that Arizona was affected by the larger and more physical squads they faced.
"We played some superhuman teams in this tournament and I don't think that we had our edge. We just didn't execute and we weren't at the other teams' level," Icecat head coach Leo Golembiewski said.
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