After what seems like a very short recruiting offseason, the ASU hockey team is heading into the 2013 season with a reloaded roster.
"Originally, I had targeted 12-13 players to bring in this year, and it ended up at 14 due to some late players who are impact guys that any program would be lucky to have," coach Greg Powers said. "I am confident now that every forward, defenseman and goalie we brought in with this class not only has the ability to help us win immediately, but can learn from our incredible veteran core of guys."
ASU acquired nine forwards, three defenseman and two goaltenders, coming from leagues like the USHL, NAHL, SJHL, MJHL, EJHL, WSHL, BCHL and KIJHL.
The experience across the board is off the charts, and coach Powers is ecstatic about the potential for the upcoming season.
"Next year, it will be a battle every day to crack our lineup, and that is the kind of environment I want at practice," Powers said. "Every day will matter, every action on and off the ice will matter, and I truly believe the fact complacency just simply cannot set in with our players on any level and on any day will spill over to success in games."
The Sun Devils lost a total of seven players to graduation - Dan Styrna, Dan Anderson, Brett Prechel, Phil Sansone, Darcy Charrois, Brian Parson and Ryan Clark. Three of them were among the top-10 scorers last season, and three of them played in at least 40 games.
As if that wasn't enough, two more players are transferring, and one may be a big blow for the Sun Devils.
Freshman forward Stephen Collins is transferring to State University of New York at Geneseo due to personal reasons.
Collins was fifth in points, second in goals and tied for eighth in assists for the Sun Devils last season, becoming big skates to fill for coach Powers.
Sophomore defenseman Mike Smith is also transferring to a school in California due to personal reasons as well.
Powers is anticipating one of the nine forwards to step up immediately and account for the big loss up front.
"Every new guy we brought in knows once they get here, it is up to them on what happens on the ice through their work ethic, attitude and what will be a team first mentality and culture that we have built at ASU," Powers said.
Powers made sure to load the roster as much as possible this offseason, knowing that he loses eight seniors in 2014.
Of those losses, big names like Kale Dolinski, Colin Hekle, Danny McAuliffe and Brian McGinty make it hard for a coach to replace.
But the Sun Devils entered the recruiting stage of the offseason very aware of that, and seemingly exhausted any concern of a future fall out.
"We lose eight seniors next year and the vast majority of them are major contributors," Powers said. "So, knowing we should have a seamless transition with no lapses of success after this core of guys leave is a great luxury."
Sean Murphy, Ryan Ostertag, Tom Cooney, Zack Holstrom, Michael Cummings, Eric Rivard, Chris Burkemper, Chris Blessing and Patrick Yudez are the nine new Sun Devil forwards - all of which Powers is confident can make an immediate impact.
The three defensemen include Alex Temby, Troy Hoban and Jarrod Levos.
Robert Levin and Jordan Gluck are two premier goaltenders brought in by Powers as well to fight it out for the top spot.
The exciting part of this recruiting class for Powers is that some of these athletes had potential opportunities to play NCAA D-I or D-III hockey, but chose to be a Sun Devil.
That alone can excite any head coach, especially Powers, who may have his work cut out for him in making his lineups.
While rumors will be rumors, there is word of a possible position change for a key Sun Devil.
Senior forward Colin Hekle may move from his dominant role up front back to the blue line in 2013.
Captain Canada was second on the team in points (55) and third in goals scored, all while missing a good chunk of the last few weeks of the regular season.
Hekle suffered an apparent shoulder injury at the beginning of the second part of the season, and then looked to have reinjured it again in the team's final game against Lindenwood.
Whether or not this has any affect on the possible shift is just speculation, but his big frame and premier puck handling makes the switch an eyebrow raiser.
With the loss of Clark and Parson - two key pieces to the defensive side of the puck for the Sun Devils - Hekle's experience and hockey IQ may land him in a perfect spot in 2013.
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