We have reached the end of our midseason review of Sun Devil hockey.
Now we make our picks for the first half team MVP. Joining the House of Sparky staff once again will be ASU senior defenseman Brian Parson to get an insider's opinion.
Brad Denny: On the surface, it could seem that there may be bias in my pick, as I have played goalie since I was 14. However, the teams that win title are the teams that have a goaltender that can take over games, and ASU's Joe D'Elia is exactly that. His dominance is the biggest reason why ASU is No. 1 in the ACHA, and my pick as MVP, getting the nod over Stephen Collins.
A look at the numbers clearly illustrates how well he has played thus far. Among goalies who have played over 600 minutes (the equivalent of 10 full games), D'Elia's .920 save percentage ranks sixth, and his 2.05 goals against average is the nation's best by a hefty margin, as Oklahoma's Colin Fernandes is No. 2 at 2.17.
When his stellar play is combined with the team's scoring prowess, it's no surprise that D'Elia's 14 victories are the second most in the country.
But beyond the raw numbers is a refined goaltender, and a player that can take over a game and keep the Sun Devils hanging around on the off nights long enough for them to find a way to win. The Sun Devils have so much depth with their forwards that they can still win with a few guys been shut down. However, without D'Elia, this team has no margin for error.
Kerry Crowley: The Arizona State hockey team has played 20 games against ACHA competition this year and there is one consistent statistic from each of those box scores.
In all 20 games, Sun Devil captain Colin Hekle has contributed at least one point. Whether he scores the first goal of a close matchup, or waits until the last minute of a blow-out win, the Arizona State junior has developed into the dependable force the Sun Devils can rely on in every game.
Choosing a first half MVP for a team that could have four or five All-Americans is difficult, because so many players have made a difference throughout the early part of the season.
I would be hard pressed to argue with any of my fellow analysts if they choose players like Kale Dolinski, Stephen Collins, and Joe D'Elia, because each of these guys have dominated the competition on a nightly basis.
However, I believe Hekle deserves the first half MVP award not only because of his eye-popping stats (36 Points including 17 Goals), but because of the leadership he brings to this team.
In ACHA play, Hekle has been there and done that. Though he's only a junior, the forward has amassed over 100 career points and helped the Sun Devils rise through the ranks. Few players are more determined than Hekle, and a national championship is his only matter of unfinished business.
When play resumes after the holidays, I expect Colin Hekle to continue to be the model of consistency the Arizona State team needs.
Allyson Cummings: I am going to go ahead and give my MVP for first semester to Kale Dolinski, with goaltender Joe D'Elia as a very close second. The reason why I chose Dolinski was because of his outstanding performance so far this season. He currently leads the team in points with 37, and in goals with 23. Dolinski has two hat tricks on the season as well, with one of them taking place down in Tucson in one of the hardest environments to endure. He also scored two of the team's three goals during the huge victory against NCAA-D1 opponent Penn State.
Not only is Dolinski a leader on the ice, but he is also a leader in the locker room as one of the assistant captains. All of the captains have in fact done an outstanding leadership job so far this season; walking into the locker-room you can easily tell that the Sun Devils are one big family. Therefore, you can without question depend on Kale to get the job done both with his leadership and ability. That's why for me, I am going to go ahead and give my MVP to Kale Dolinski.
Nick Marek: The Sun Devils roster is full of potential MVP candidates at the mid-season review point and I see four front-runners for this honor. Forwards Kale Dolinski, Colin Hekle, and Stephen Collins and goaltender Joe D'Elia are on my ballot and I chose to fill in the bubble next to Kale Dolinski.
How can you go wrong with a player who is leading the team in points (37), goals (23) and short-handed goals (3). He has already had multiple hat trick performances and it is only the midway point of the season. His most notable game had to be against Penn State when he scored two goals in the 3-1 victory. If he can do that against an NCAA opponent, you can tell how good he does against high end ACHA teams.
In my opinion, it seems like Dolinski may be one of the best linemates on ASU because he works well with everyone. There is not a doubt in my mind that he will carry this hot start into the second half.
Brian Parson: I hate to say it because he just gets all the hype all the time, but Jordan Young has been a great addition to our blue line. He obviously contributes a lot offensively as a defenseman. You can just tell that the kid cares, and he definitely wears his emotions on his shoulder, which can be a good thing. When he gets fired up, he'll be going. Jordan Young has been the man.