(Photo: Nick Marek)
Nick Marek previews the weekend rivalry series between ASU and Arizona on the ice
The Arizona State hockey team is seeking its 25th and 26th straight victories against cross-state rival Arizona this weekend. Head coach Greg Powers knows that the Wildcats are hungry to beat the Sun Devils.
"They have some good talent, they're well coached and they want to beat us badly," Powers praised. "On paper we are much stronger, but sometimes, passion trumps logic."
The Sun Devils have not lost a single game against the Wildcats in over three years, but all the stats disappear when the teams hit the ice. The veterans of this ASU squad understand what is at stake in this historic rivalry, but it is their responsibility to teach the newcomers exactly what is at stake. It does not matter if the newcomers have only played in one game for ASU, they will still be a factor against Arizona this weekend.
"It's pretty evident they're the best recruiting class we have ever had," Powers said confidently. "Maybe even the best recruiting class the league has ever seen. They're that good."
The freshman skaters tallied a total of seventeen points against Texas A&M in their 13-0 season opener shutout. Defenseman Jordan Young finished with a team high six points, and forwards Stephen Collins and Brian McGinty each had two goals in their Sun Devil debuts.
Coach Powers has decided to have four freshman forwards in his top three offensive lines because it creates balance for the Sun Devils. The good news for ASU is that alternate captain Kale Dolinski is healthy and will be playing this weekend. Dolinski finished last season tied with a team high 46 points and led the team with 25 assists and 9 power play goals.
On a side note, Arizona was 15 for 16 in penalty kill chances against Northern Arizona University. At gametime, it does not matter if ASU has more talent than UofA because the rivalry instantly turns the games into a battle.
"The U of A series is practically a separate season. The kids know before they put on our jersey what it's all about. We've raised the level of intensity this week to prepare," Powers said.
The rivalry resumes Friday night at 8 p.m. and Saturday night at 7 p.m. in the Oceanside Ice Arena in Tempe.