Christmas is a time of gift-giving, and ASU hockey coach Greg Powers delivered quite a few presents to his program on Christmas Eve, in the form of two new players and assistant coach.
Christmas Eve was Wednesday, which proved to be a busy one for the team. It started in the morning when defenseman Liam McGing committed, followed by a noon announcement that current assistant coach Alex Hicks would join the NCAA staff next season. The day got wrapped up when forward Charlie Zuccarini announced his commitment to ASU.
I'm thrilled to announce my commitment to Arizona State University to play D1 Hockey. Thanks to all who helped along the way. @ASUD1Hockey— Liam McGing (@liam_mcging) December 24, 2014
McGing comes from the USHL, the second such recruit from the country's top junior league joining Ryan Stevens. McGing is a defensive-minded defenseman, evidenced by only three points in 25 games with Muskegon this year. Of those 25 games however, only four have netted a negative plus/minus.
While it is unclear which current Sun Devils will transition with the team to NCAA next season, McGing's defensive mind would play well with the current team. ASU's top defensemen, Ed McGovern and Connor Schmidt, put a good deal of points on the board from the blue line and a defensive whiz would add variety to the unit.
McGing said he had his eye on ASU since the announcement. He said he admires the athletic landscape at ASU, crediting the school's other sports with creating a culture of sports. He said he couldn't be happier to join the first NCAA hockey team.
"Whoever gets to go there will be awesome," he said he thought at the time of the announcement. "We'll be the beginning of something new."
While McGing isn't expected to put the puck in the net, Zuccarini will. His 41 points are tied for his team lead with Trail of the BCHL and his 20 goals are tied for sixth in the league, all in just 33 games. His scouting report comes with a stopwatch- he is fast, arguably the fastest player in the BCHL.
Excited to announce my commitment to play D1 hockey at Arizona State University. Thanks to everyone whose helped along the way. #sundevils— charlie zuccarini (@chzucc25) December 24, 2014
Zuccarini hails from Connecticut, making him the second recruit from the East Coast along with New Yorker Jordan Masters. Powers said he was going to focus on the Western part of the country (both played in the BCHL), but being able to lock up players from the East is a good sign for recruiting efforts in the future.
As for the coach, the former NHL veteran Hicks joined the ACHA coaching staff prior to the season in order to be a mentor for the team's forwards. He and Powers developed a rapport throughout the season and Powers decided he wanted him on the bench next season.
Hicks played NCAA Division III hockey at Wisconsin Eau-Claire, and Powers hopes to use his experience to help the players on the team. Powers himself played collegiate hockey at ASU, but that was an ACHA team, so he does not have the NCAA experience Hicks does.
"Alex knows what it takes from an athlete to get to the next level and he will pass that knowledge on to every player who wears the Sun Devil jersey," Powers said in a release. "Alex has an innate ability to break a game down like nobody I have ever seen. He is a very high level hockey mind that will be invaluable to the development of our program here at Arizona State."