Arizona State hockey goaltender Joe D'Elia did not have the most straightforward path to Arizona State.
He transferred to Tempe for the 2012 spring semester after leading the Davenport Panthers to an ACHA National Championship just a few months prior. He played behind senior Mark Schacker (21-4-2, 2.45 GAA, .919) for the remainder of the year and he shut out his former team in his debut as a Sun Devil.
The Richmond Hill, Ontario native waited patiently for a chance to take the starting job and it paid dividends last season. D'Elia won 26 games and allowed fewer than 2.4 goals per game in route to his ACHA Third Team All-American accolade.
"It was a pretty cool honor, actually, but I owe it to the guys who were in the locker room last year. Without those guys I wouldn't have had any success," D'Elia humbly remarked.
Being named one of the best goaltenders in the league is undoubtedly a tremendous accomplishment for D'Elia, but that's not the prize he is really after. He wants to graduate with his second ACHA Championship.
"It's definitely the way I want to go out. Once you get one, you want one every year. To send myself and the rest of the seniors out would be pretty awesome," D'Elia said.
Last season, D'Elia showed flashes of excellence. One of his most notable games has to be when he stopped 36 of 37 shots en route to a 3-1 victory over Division I Penn State. He finished the year with three shutouts, including back-to-back performances against Rhode Island, and he played two nearly flawless games in net in Chicago to wrap up last season.
In order to go out on top, the 5-foot-9 goaltender understands that he needs to tweak his game just a little bit.
"Just consistency and working on the little things. I thought my game was pretty good last year, but I had a few mental lapses throughout the year and I just want to try to limit those," D'Elia said.
One of the few "little things" D'Elia needs to work on is his rebound control. His positioning is very strong between the pipes, but he ran into problems holding on to the puck and teams tried to take advantage of it. Though, he trusts his defense on top of the crease, it's his turn to take charge and become 'Mr. Reliable' every single night.
With his first start out of the way, D'Elia has plans to remain as the Sun Devil's No. 1 option over the two freshman recruits, Robert Levin and Lucal Felbel, head coach Greg Powers brought in.
"Off the ice, on the ice, we're all good friends and we know what's at stake. We are just pushing each other every day to get better," D'Elia said.
And if they push enough, the Sun Devils just might make D'Elia's team-wide dream a reality.