The worst possible thing for an ASU fan is losing the Territorial Cup football game to Arizona. And while it may not completely make up for it, hockey has a chance at redemption.
It's the first rivalry game since ASU's announcement that it will be an NCAA Division I program next season, so the eyes of ASU fans will be on the ice. Throw in that the football team lost in Tucson last week and the No. 1 Sun Devils head down south for a clash with No. 20 Arizona with a little more pressure.
"More eyes are on us now than ever as a program, especially from ASU supporters up here in Tempe," ASU coach Greg Powers said. "We're going to go down there and certainly seek to get some revenge on UA for that big loss we took last week."
The players agree.
"There's always pressure to win just because we hate those guys so much," junior defenseman Jordan Young said. "I think the fact that you just want your whole school to win in everything, that does give more pressure because they can hold it against you a bit."
Young, now in his third year with the team, has never lost in Tucson. Since Greg Powers became head coach for the 2010-11 season, ASU is 41-1 against Arizona, with the only loss coming at home. ASU is a perfect 20-0 in the Wildcats' home building.
But for some, it's the first trip down there. Ed McGovern is a freshman and this will be his first experience playing in Tucson as a Sun Devil. He is from Scottsdale, Ariz., and grew up an ASU fan and with all the animosity toward Arizona associated with it.
"I hate them so I can't wait to play them," McGovern said. "We know (football) was a tough loss for ASU but we'll get it back this weekend.
The Wildcats have hovered around the .500 mark all season and come win with a 9-8-3 record. The team lacks the dynamic goal-scorers ASU has, as the Wildcats do not have a player with at least a point per game (ASU has five such players). Arizona averages 3.0 goals per game, but allows 3.35.
While ASU lost the Territorial Cup, its hockey team can clinch at least a split of the other sport-specific trophy: the Cactus Cup. The two Arizona schools match up eight times per season, with the winner of the majority of the games taking home the prize. ASU has won it in every year since its inception in 2011.A sweep would gave ASU its third and fourth wins of the series, guaranteeing at least a tie.
- Defenseman Gianni Mangone (leg) and forwards Ryan Ostertag (undisclosed) and Patrick Yudez (foot) are out for the weekend. All are expected to return next semester.
- Forward Faiz Khan was ruled ineligible for the first half of the season, and this weekend will be the final games he cannot play.
- The team's next win will be Powers' 150th as head coach. If it is against Arizona, he certainly has a knack for using the big stage for his milestones, as his his 75th was against NCAA Division I Penn State.