Senior forward Kale Dolinski tore up the first half of the season, and the American Collegiate Hockey Association recognized it. Earlier this week, they awarded him as October's player of the month.
The assistant captain posted frightening numbers, leading the ACHA with 38 points and 27 assists through the team's first 19 games. What's more impressive is that Dolinski has a chance of breaking his 77-point freshman campaign when he played for Minot State a few years back.
But this season is more important for Dolinski that just winning a monthly award. He said he's honored to be a part of the Sun Devil legacy for three seasons and he was quick to thank head coach Greg Powers.
"It would be selfish of me to not thank coach Powers for giving me the opportunity to be with this family for over three years now," Dolinski said. "If there is one thing that I have enjoyed the most about my three years playing for ASU it's the people I have met and the friendships that will last a lifetime. I love each and everyone of the guys, they are my brothers."
Those are the same brothers who skate beside him every day in practice and during games, helping to make Dolinski a better teammate and player. Dolinski makes a valid point; the program is on the map because of the senior class Powers brought to Tempe.
There has been so much hype about the team's top forward lines, and Dolinski's offensive explosion is helping show how dominant this team truly is.
"There has been much talk about first, second, third line since the day I joined this team," Dolinski reflects. "The unfortunate thing is... I have yet to put a ring on my finger. I think we have four number one lines on this team and our's just happens to be written at the top for the time being."
The Regina, Saskatchewan native has this undeniable chemistry with Danny McAuliffe and Liam Norris and the three make up the best line in the entire ACHA. Dolinksi, ASU's energizer bunny, may have an endless battery on the ice, but he realizes he wouldn't have the offensive opportunities without his two partners in crime.
"Liam and Mac are two special hockey players who I love to go to war with each and every night. They are relentless on the puck and each adds a special dynamic that collectively creates this chemistry which makes hockey fun. If there is one thing that I can say about those two kids its that all of my achievements and successes would never have come to fruition if they were not playing by my side. Liam's ability to get me the puck will never go unappreciated and Mac's corner abilities and physicality may make him one of the most complete hockey players I have ever known."
But Dolinski's contributions on the ice go beyond what the stat book says. What makes the player of the month so deadly is that he also plays on both special team units because he is also one of the best defensive minded forwards in the league and he will always be the first forward back to help.
He says he takes pride in playing on the penalty kill, a group that has better than a 96 percent success rate, and says the secret is to be willing to get down and dirty and being on the same page with your partner on the ice. It's also a luxury knowing that everyone contributes on the PK and power play units so it makes Arizona State's job easier to find success and production.
Dolinski and Colin Hekle make up an unusual pair on the penalty kill because they can find offense with a defensive mentality. When the Energizer Bunny and Captain Canada join forces, it's a sight to be seen.
"When I first arrived in Tempe, I was a little nervous and not sure what to expect from coach powers or this 6'4 captain who people claim is the 'real deal.' I will be the first to say that coach powers has exceeded all of my expectations and I just hope one day he is truly rewarded for all of his efforts," said Dolinski. "After playing three seasons side by side with Hex, I consider him my brother from another mother. He took me in with open arms and we build off one another. We know the importance of leadership and how effective it can be in winning a championship."
Working as Arizona State's Batman and Robin, they are united through their energy and desire to win with this team. There is one thing the first two months of the season has proved and it's how much this team embraces the drive to be the best, and for now, they are back on top.
"I like being under the gun because hockey is always the most exciting when you get opponents that want to take what is yours, and that's your ranking," Dolinski said.