ASU Hockey: Preseason prediction roundtable

Captain Colin Hekle is ready for a run at a National Title - Allyson Cummings

The Sun Devils will be a top competitor in the ACHA this year. Find out from the hockey beat writers where the players will finish.

With the season getting underway on Friday night, there are high expectations for head coach Greg Powers and his team. The seniors are on top of many preseason standings so let's see how the Arizona State hockey beat writers think how this season is going to go.

Six different hockey writers offered their picks for who will lead the Sun Devils in each category and who their predictions are for team awards.

Nick Marek (House of Sparky Beat Writer)

Top Goal Scorers: Kale Dolinski, Sean Murphy

Assists: Colin Hekle, Danny McAuliffe

Points: Kale Dolinski, Colin Hekle

Newcomer of the year: Drew Newmeyer

Defensive MVP: Jordan Young

Offensive MVP: Kale Dolinski

Overall MVP: Colin Hekle

Bold Prediction: ASU remains undefeated against U of A and the team has an ACHA Rookie of the Year

Regular season record: 32-4

Arizona State will get off to a hot start again this season, but the one thing that may hurt this team in the spring before Nationals is that they do not face opponents like Division I Penn State or even the two teams in Canada in the Great Northwest Showcase. The Sun Devils are the team to watch this year in the ACHA and this is the best year they have to win a championship. Fans are expecting perfection from this team and the 15 new recruits will contribute immediately. The only question is can this team find chemistry on its third and fourth lines? The defense and goaltending should be great, but if ASU can find one more go-to scoring line, there will be new hardware coming to Tempe.

Brad Denny (3TV):

Top Goal Scorers: Kale Dolinski, Faiz Khan

Assists: Colin Hekle, Liam Norris

Points: Kale Dolinski, Colin Hekle

Newcomer of the year: Sean Murphy

Defensive MVP: Robert Levin

Offensive MVP: Colin Hekle

Overall MVP: Kale Dolinski

Bold prediction: Levin unseats D'Elia as the No. 1 goalie

Regular season record: 34-2

As a likely preseason No. 1, there is nowhere to go for ASU but down. There will be the challenges of facing those expectations, blending new talent into the existing roster, and a possible goalie controversy ahead. Yet, this year's Sun Devil team should be able to finish what was started last year. Head coach Greg Powers has assembled a ridiculously talented roster, and has the skill to lead his men to a national championship. Perhaps the best thing for this year's team is its loss in the Final Four last year. Most of that experience, and the hard lessons learned from it, should ensure that the Sun Devils remain focused all season long on capturing their first title.

Kerry Crowley:

Top Goal Scorers: Colin Hekle, Kale Dolinski

Assists: Colin Hekle, Liam Norris

Points: Colin Hekle, Kale Dolinski

Newcomer of the year: Sean Murphy

Defensive MVP: Jordan Young

Offensive MVP: Kale Dolinski

Overall MVP: Colin Hekle

Bold prediction: Hekle and Dolinski each hit 70 points this season.

Regular season record: 33-3

Brad's right, the only surprise for ASU would be not winning the national championship. The Sun Devils should start the season at the top of the polls and barring a few serious injuries, that's where they should end the season. This team really is that good. If the top three lines can develop chemistry and the fourth line can grind things out and play even with opponents, there's no reason for the vast majority of these games to be close. The toughest part of the ACHA season is peaking at the right time, but if any team could play underwhelming hockey and still win a title, it's this one.

Casey Rusnak:

Top Goal Scorers: Kale Dolinski, Colin Hekle

Assists: Colin Hekle, Danny McAuliffe

Points: Colin Hekle, Kale Dolinski

Newcomer of the year: Jarrod Levos

Defensive MVP: Brett Blomgren

Offensive MVP: Kale Dolinski

Overall MVP: Colin Hekle

Bold prediction: Undefeated in Tempe

Regular season record: 32-4

This team is a whole lot more talented and deep than last year. That being said, I don't see them having a much better record than last year (30-6). ASU has a tough road trip to Illinois, Oklahoma, and Central Oklahoma early in the season, which could spell trouble for a team full of new faces trying to build chemistry. But this Sun Devil team is not about what happens in the regular season. Expect ASU to be ranked No. 1 for the majority of the season and potentially land a national championship.

Justin Emerson (State Press):

Top Goal Scorers: Kale Dolinski, Sean Murphy

Assists: Liam Norris, Colin Hekle

Points: Kale Dolinski, Colin Hekle

Newcomer of the year: Sean Murphy

Defensive MVP: Jordan Young

Offensive MVP: Kale Dolinski

Overall MVP: Colin Hekle

Bold Prediction: Coming off an injury, Liam Norris leads the team in assists, helping Dolinski lead the ACHA in goals.

Regular season record: 31-5

Expectations are a wonderful thing to have, but a terrible thing with which to be burdened. This team is expected to go to, and even win, the national tournament and it's tough to go through a season with that sort of pressure for perfection. All teams go into slumps, and hopefully for the Sun Devils that doesn't happen in March when the playoffs start. Freshmen will be the difference-maker this season, and 14 rookies on the roster is a bit of a question mark, particularly on defense, where the six defensemen may be made of four newcomers. But if the newcomers mesh well (and I think they will), I can't come up with a reason why this team won't win its first ACHA title.

Allyson Cummings (Walter Cronkite Sports Network):

Top Goal Scorers: Kale Dolinski, Sean Murphy

Assists: Danny McAuliffe, Colin Hekle

Points: Kale Dolinski, Colin Hekle

Newcomer of the Year: Zack Holstrom

Defensive MVP: Drew Newmeyer

Offensive MVP: Kale Dolinski

Overall MVP: Danny McAuliffe

Bold prediction: Arizona State wins its first 24 games and takes home the ACHA National title

Regular season record: 30-6

I'm expecting the Sun Devils to start the season strong. They are facing ACHA Division II teams for the first two series, giving them momentum into the University of Arizona series. The schedule is much easier than last year. They will not be seeing teams such as Lindenwood or Robert Morris, not to mention NCAA D1 Penn State. The hardest game I see comes against Minot State in early November due to the fact that the struggled with the Beavers last season. Also, with this year's recruiting class, ASU will not be short on talent. Even with potential injuries as the season moves forward, depth will not be an issue at all. I see the Sun Devils escaping 30-6, with a National Title or at least making it to the finals.The Sun Devils will be a top competitor in the ACHA this year.

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