SATURDAY: NAU 5, ICECATS 4

Sluggish third period costly for Arizona

2011-01-17T00:00:00Z Sluggish third period costly for ArizonaChris Davis Special To The Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Following Friday's 6-1 victory over Northern Arizona University, Icecats coach Leo Golembiewski could not overlook the way his team played.

He described it as a lack of intensity over a full 60 minutes and knew it would be critical to rein in this habit before the team's toughest stretch of games.

Little did he or anyone know then, that it would become such a big problem so much sooner.

Arizona allowed three third-period goals on Saturday to lose 5-4 to NAU at Tucson Convention Center.

"It's disheartening because you're trying to get the team to understand that every game needs to be played 60 minutes," Golembiewski said. "We've been plagued by this all year long and today we played totally down."

Similar to Friday's outcome, the Icecats jumped out to an early lead in the first period as Brady Lefferts found the net 4:40 into the game for the third time in the weekend series.

But unlike Friday, when NAU continued to unravel, the Ice Jacks answered back. Goals by Ryan Smith and Tucker Braund gave NAU its first lead of the two-game series.

Coupled with his team's upset over Adrian College last week, Arizona's Jordan Schupan said the first period should've served as a wake-up call to his team.

"After last weekend, getting beat pretty bad on Friday and coming back and winning against the No. 5 team on Saturday we shouldn't have been overlooking them," he said. "That's what happened tonight."

The Icecats (10-9) strung together three unanswered goals between the end of the first period and into the third, when Brian Slugocki scored on a breakaway. With a 4-2 lead, it looked as though Arizona had the momentum and would be able to pull out the win.

But things were just getting started. NAU capitalized on Arizona's inability to clear the puck out of the defensive zone and Justin Frechione scored twice in a 34-second span to tie the game in the third.

"We had that lead and the turning point is who gets that next goal," Schupan said. "We were in the box and there's a tip and they end up scoring. That really killed the momentum."

After scoring 10 goals in just over five periods against NAU goaltender Quinn Mason, the Icecats could not take advantage of multiple scoring opportunities once the game was tied. Then with just over three minutes remaining, Barett Buckowich netted the game-winner.

"We let the game get out of hand but we really should've never been in that situation in the first place," Schupan said.

Arizona will host Minot State University this weekend in what will be the beginning of a key four-game stretch in order to reach nationals.

"They're a more-skilled team and the mistakes we made tonight, they'll definitely capitalize on those," Schupan said about Minot State. "We've got to play with the puck deep in their end and pressure them. When we're playing in their end they're not going to score on us."

Up next

• Who: Minot State at Icecats

• When: Friday-Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

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