Junior Faiz Khan had an impressive first season with the Sun Devils hockey team and he earned our Newcomer of the Year Award for the consistency he provided on both sides of the rink. This season could be shaping up to be even better.
The transfer takes pride in not only his attack, but also his defensive abilities.
"I do take a lot of pride in defense. They always say defense wins championships," Khan said. "I just try to make it easy on our D by getting back for them so we can quickly turn it up ice and go on the rush. There are two sides to this game and you just have to be consistent in making sure you don't make mistakes on either side of the ice."
Typically, it takes new recruits a couple of weekends to fit in with the system and learn their roles with the team. Khan jumped past the introductory phase of the season and immediately provided a spark on the top two lines.
Because he is a two-way forward, Khan saw plenty of ice time with the special team units because head coach Greg Powers trusts him to play in different situations. His versatility paid dividends because in November, Khan saw himself playing on the team's top line alongside Colin Hekle and Dan Styrna. If Hekle and Khan were to reunite on the same line this season, it will spell trouble for American Collegiate Hockey Association opponents.
"It's really great (playing with Hekle)," Khan noted. "His speed, along with his size, opens up a ton of room on the ice for us to work. What makes it work well, I believe, is just our communication on and off the ice. When we are in between shifts we are always talking to each other, whether it be a positive comment on the play before or what we need to do instead to be more productive. On the ice we are always letting each other know where we are and what options we have. Hopefully we can just keep it going."
Communication builds chemistry and this combination proved in late November that they can single-handedly take over a game. Penn State, anyone?
Despite missing nearly a full month with a hand injury, the 5-foot-9, 165-pound firecracker still scored 13 goals and 14 assists in 35 games. He led the team with four goals down the stretch in February, he had eight multi-point games during the 2012-13 season, and he tallied two assists during the ACHA National Tournament.
What makes the left-handed shooter so valuable to this program is that he can do a little bit of everything. Besides flooding the stat sheet, Khan is a playmaker with very good vision. He knows how to find the shooting lanes and he is consistently the first forward back on defense.
There is no denying the Newhall, California native found chemistry with returning players like Hekle, but now it is time to put together the full package.
"There is nothing else for us to do but win a National Championship," Khan said. "All the accolades we had won last year with the number one ranking and the win at Penn State were amazing accomplishments. Yet, I know the guys in that room after our exit last year at Nationals are aching for another opportunity. That is our goal. Plain and simple."
Khan and the rest of the Sun Devils have some unfinished business to take care of, and a title may be just what Khan needs to call himself the best Sun Devil hockey player in his family.
"(My brothers) are more supportive of my career here at ASU. I mean when my time at ASU is over, I may have to break out the books and crunch the numbers to really solidify my spot as number one in the household," Khan said.
Even if beating his brothers isn't his top priority, there is still nothing like a healthy competition. Zeeshan played for Arizona State between 2001-2005 and Shahzad studied in Tempe between 2002-2006, but neither were ranked number one in the league, were able to beat the Wildcats with ease or had a legitimate chance to win a National Championship. After this season, it is not out of the picture that Khan could wear an "A" on his sweater for his senior year.
There is no doubt the upperclassman winger will be a top six forward again this season and if he can find a teammate to replace Dan Styrna opposite of him, Khan's success will go far beyond just the numbers.