Arizona Rubber

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IceJacks start second half with big wins, still have lofty expectations moving forward

 

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Northern Arizona University’s ACHA Division II team entered the second half with just six games the rest of the regular season.

And won them all.

Right now, the IceJacks sit in a bye position for the upcoming national tournament, a spot they intend to hold onto even with a limited schedule the rest of January.

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“We need to have a super strong second half here,” said NAU head coach Travis Johanson. “We had a slow start with a few hiccups here and there, lots of injuries, but we found our groove and had a lot of guys step up during the first half. We played six complete games and the result and position are in our favor.”

Northern Arizona played just two games in December, sweeping Arizona State University Dec. 7-8 at Oceanside Ice Arena.

“Our starts are always tough as we only come together as a squad two weeks prior to our first games,” noted IceJacks assistant coach Kris Walsh. “This year’s roadie to North Dakota really brought the group together. It was a long, tough trip that tested our dedication. That helped us form a team identity that we were able to carry forward. Games began to go in our favor, and we were winning.”

The schedule for January started with four games in Colorado (at Dakota College at Bottineau – Jan. 18, won 5-2, at University of Colorado – Jan. 19, won 3-0, at Metro State University – Jan. 20, won 4-3, and then at University of Washington – Jan. 21, won 10-0) before hosting Grand Canyon University at Jay Lively Arena on Jan. 25 (won 3-1) before going back on the road to play GCU the following night, a 5-1 win.

“The games won’t be easy, but we match up good against the competition,” Walsh said. “Success for this season means returning to the national tournament. It’s something that we work really hard to accomplish but each year has its challenges with injuries and eligibility requirements.”

Photo/Wyatt Rutt Photography

— Matt Mackinder

(Jan. 30, 2019)