The NCAA game is bigger and faster than the ACHA game. ASU was going to need to bring in size in order to compete, and that's exactly what it did Saturday.
The Sun Devils picked up two new recruits in defenseman Jake Clifford and forward Ryan Stevens, who announced their commitments via Twitter within hours of one another.
Proud to announce, I'll be playing D1 hockey next year at Arizona State University. Thanks to everyone who has supported me #FearTheFork— Jake Clifford (@cliff_show) December 20, 2014
Excited to announce my commitment to play D1 hockey at Arizona State University, thanks to all who helped me get to this point! #GoDevils— Ryan Stevens (@RyanStevens9) December 20, 2014
Clifford has developed a reputation as a monster in the British Columbia Hockey League. He stands at over six feet tall and 200 pounds and uses his physicality to bully player on the ice. Far from just a goon and an enforcer, he has netted seven goals and dished out eight assists for 15 points in 28 games this year, fantastic numbers for a blueliner. For comparison's sake to the current squad, sophomore Connor Schmidt currently leads ASU defensemen with six goals and 11 assists in 23 games.
Stevens is the epitome of a power forward. He plays center, giving the Sun Devils size and speed up the middle. He stands 6-feet-3-inches tall, making him the biggest player on the team in terms of height. His numbers may not pop off the page, but he is considered to have high-end prospect potential, and could prove to be one of the team's biggest gets to date.
Both of Stevens' parents are ASU alumni, which no doubt aided the team in its recruiting process.
"When I heard ASU was getting a D1 program, it's always been a dream for me to go to Arizona State and follow in my parents' footsteps," Stevens said. "They supported me all along, but never really pushed me."
ASU coach Greg Powers said he was going to focus on the Western part of the continent and has done just that. Clifford, originally from Ohio played his hockey career in the North American League (an American midwest-to-western league) before moving up to the Pacific Northwest. Stevens is a native of Dallas, Texas, staying in-state for two years with Amarillo of the NAHL before joining Dubuque of the United States Hockey League this season.
They're both big, they're both physical and they're both ecstatic to be apart of the first Division I hockey team in ASU history.
Stevens: "It's going to be a great program and I'm just really, really proud and honored to be apart of it."