(Photo: Allyson Cummings - Walter Cronkite Sports Network)
Faiz Khan scored the game-winning goal against Arizona on Saturday night to keep ASU's undefeated streak alive.
The news is a week old but House of Sparky never gets tired of saying it: Arizona State hockey is number one for the first time in program history, but that ranking did not come easily this weekend against rival Arizona.
With the game knotted up at one apiece in Tucson heading into the third period, the Sun Devils were looking for someone on the bench to answer.
Sophomore forward Faiz Khan did just that.
With nine minutes remaining in the game, Khan intercepted the puck from Arizona defenseman Nick Stolz and rocketed the eventual game-winning goal.
"I wasn't doing well on my draws, which cost us possession. It was all really getting to me and frustrating me," Khan said. "When the moment came and I scored, it just erased the frustration immediately. I was glad to put our team in a spot to win."
The Sun Devils were able to escape with a 3-1 victory thanks to Khan's goal and the team for shutting down the Wildcats in the final period. The California native said that goal ranked as one of his best hockey moments of his career.
But he quickly stated how important his Western Canadian National Championship was a few years back because it led him to playing junior and collegiate hockey. Khan was destined to play hockey at a higher level since the day he was born.
"I first skated when I was two years old I believe and ever since it has been nothing but hockey. I didn't really know anything else. As soon as (the skates) were on, it was a part of my life," Khan said.
His family has always been supportive of Khan's passion for hockey.
"My family has been my number one inspiration in my hockey career. My mom and dad have been to the ends of the earth to give me such a fortunate life where I can pursue my dreams. My brothers have always been there to give me advice whether it was hockey or school or just life in general. They have been through it all and I feel that it has been easy with them guiding me," he said.
In 13 games, the sophomore forward has turned that guidance into four goals and four assists. He has played alongside veterans Dan Styrna and David Jantzie for the past few weeks and he seems to be settling into his new role at center.
Last season, Khan played for NCAA DIII University of Massachusetts, Boston where he had 11 points in 21 games. Just because he has already played with an NCAA school, it does not mean ASU's ACHA status is any less rigorous.
"The transition has been a bit slow for me," Khan stated. "Everyone thinks that just because this is a Division I club that it doesn't compare to NCAA. They are mistaken. The competition is just as tough and hopefully I can get to where I want to be every night. On the score sheet helping our team win."
The transfer has done a good job of filling the stat sheet thus far and the program has already gained more respect over the years and especially now that they are number one in the country. It doesn't matter what league ASU is playing in. They are a national championship contending team and that is what matters for the players.
"I think we have great team chemistry. If everyone is on the same page and we keep our emotions in check and not let the rankings get into our heads, we will definitely bring home the national championship," Khan said.
Last season, the Sun Devils were the third-best team heading into the national tournament but they were ousted by Oakland University. This Thursday night, ASU gets a chance of redemption as they take on the seventh ranked Oakland Grizzlies in Tempe at 8:30 p.m.
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