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Arizona State uses veterans to remain undefeated

It wasn't the fastest or the best start for Arizona State hockey but the Sun Devils were clicking in the second and third periods

Photo: Allyson Cummings

After a 1-0 start in the first period, Arizona State hockey found its rhythm to disrupt the No.18 team at home and cap off a 6-2 victory.

The Sun Devils took control of last night's game thanks to the team's power play unit scoring three goals. There are three players to thank for that: Kale Dolinski, Colin Hekle and Brian McGinty (who all recorded four points).

"Power play is all confidence and right now they are confident. Every time they get out there they feel like they are going to score. It's all mojo," head coach Greg Powers said.

Dolinski and Hekle certainly have some mojo of their own and they also combined for another short-handed goal. Color commentator Austin Controulis referred to the two as the "pesky pair from up north" and Powers gave his captains high praise after another strong, complete effort.

"They've been around the block. They're both All-Americans and they are doing what they're supposed to do and I expect them to do it. More importantly they expect it out of themselves," Powers said.

Dolinski continues to lead the ACHA in points and typically this is the time of season when Arizona State is in the midst of a point race, but McGinty is 11 points back in the standings.

Besides the seniors taking control of the Sun Devils, Eric Rivard made his ASU debut last night after nursing an offseason shoulder injury and he scored in the second period on a redirection from the side of the net.

"He's just a big, physical, skilled (player) and he's really good down low. He's really good around the net and that's exactly what you saw. The kid's going to score a lot of goals," Powers said.

Rivard committed to ASU after playing junior hockey with the Soo Eagles in the NAHL Powers dressed Rivard on the third line alongside former Soo Eagles' teammate Sean Murphy and fellow freshman Ryan Ostertag.

"I played with Murph for quite some time. I played juniors with him the last three years, I've known him so I'm pretty familiar with him and O-Tag's a good player so I thought we played well. I felt really comfortable today and I played a lot of juniors and stuff so the speed of the game, I feel pretty adjusted to it," Rivard said.

Powers was able to be more flexible when he made his lines because Ostertag and Rivard both returned to the ice. The scary part is that Chris Blessing (precautionary injury) and Zack Holstrom (illness) both sat out of last night's game as the two combine for 14 points this season.

Even with a big win against another top-20 ACHA team, coach Powers said he is going to bring it all this weekend considering the team will be completely healthy.

"I think what you'll see (Friday), if we're 100 percent healthy right now, will probably be my very best lines," Powers said.

Colorado State played physical against the Sun Devils and the Rams nearly scored the first goal of the game after Connor Tamai rung a breakaway wrist shot off the post. Rather than letting the game get out of hand in the first period, the maroon and gold buckled down and played its style of hockey - quick and aggressive.

On a side note, Colorado State's second goal was a fluke considering a soft wrist shot from the blue line ricocheted off the inner skate of Jarrod Levos and between the legs of Joe D'Elia. D'Elia won his sixth game of the season and he officially stopped 19 of 21 shots.

The Sun Devils will put their undefeated streak back on the line this weekend in a two game series against the Colorado Buffaloes (1-5-1). This is Colorado's first year playing DI hockey.