Pneumonia sidelines two key Icecats

The Arizona Icecats have spent a month physically and mentally gearing up for tomorrow's season opener at ASU, but an unexpected series of events has the team searching for answers.


Earlier this week, junior forward Jordan Schupan and senior defenseman Austin Capobianco came down with pneumonia, sidelining them for at least the first week of the season.


""It's disheartening not having everyone here, because you've been practicing for a month and you want to play,"" said assistant coach Dave Dougall. ""We have two key guys out so it's kind of frustrating, but there's not much you can do about it.""


The Icecats' run of bad luck came late last weekend and earlier this week when both Schupan and Capobianco spent time in the hospital.


Schupan had been sick for a couple of weeks, but continued to play through the pain. The forward decided to take a week off from hockey, but the rest didn't help him.


Early Saturday morning he woke up to sharp pains in his lungs, causing him to check himself into the emergency room. After 32 hours in the hospital, he was diagnosed with pneumonia.


Schupan is also an asthmatic, which only worsens the situation. Due to the condition, head coach Leo Golembiewski is more worried about Schupan staying healthy than when he will  return to the ice.


Capobianco faced a similar path on his way to this week's inactive list. Like Schupan, the senior defenseman sat out of practice for a couple of days with what he thought was a common cold. As his pain kept getting worse, he also made a trip to the hospital and left with the disappointing news that he too had pneumonia.


The absence of this duo will be felt early and often against ASU.


""It's just really frustrating to find that out right before we play ASU, which we have been preparing for for so long as a team,"" Schupan said. ""I really wanted to go out and open the season at ASU with my teammates.""


Schupan was second on the team in goals and total points last season, posting 22 goals and 39 points in only 21 games. Capobianco, one of only two seniors on the team, finished the season with 18 assists and 24 total points, good for second and fourth on the team, respectively.


""We are definitely going to miss the point production,"" Dougall said. ""Both are key players we use on power play or penalty kill, and they're also on one of the top lines so it's definitely going to be a challenge.""


As the start of the season is the most important stretch for the Icecats, timing couldn't have been worse. The team hopes to start the season strongly against its archrival, but that feat will be astronomically harder without Schupan and Capobianco.


Both players were told not to partake in any physical activity for a week, but can hopefully start skating in time for the Oct. 9 start of the American Collegiate Hockey Association Showcase in Youngstown, Ohio.


Capobianco's leadership and defensive experience along with Schupan's offensive ability will surely be missed this weekend, but their teammates hope their absence starts and ends in Tempe.


An Icecats team full of 20 new faces could use some leadership to start the season — especially against ASU. But the team is determined to play a hard-fought game regardless of who's on the ice.


""The team is upbeat and positive,"" Golembiewski said. ""Yes, Schupan is a great player and Capobianco is a great player, but that doesn't mean you throw in the towel. We expect the 21 kids that are going to dress to give us all they have.""

 


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