ASU hockey coach Greg Powers has said it since his team won the national title: The team has no intention of rebuilding, it plans on reloading.
The Sun Devils reloaded in a big way with the recent commitment of defenseman Gianni Mangone.
"Gianni is a kid I have been recruiting now for two years," Powers said in an email. "He is a very dynamic player on the back end that fits in perfectly with our quick transition game. I love (defensemen) who can move the puck and join the rush and Gianni is just that."
Mangone said that Powers sold him very well on the program, and that the strong finishes at nationals the last few years, including last year's championship were a deciding factor, but so too was the opportunity at a strong education.
"They have a good hockey program, but the schooling was also a factor," Mangone, who will be majoring in business finance, said. "I wanted to get a good education."
Proud to say I am officially a Sun Devil! Can wait for the next four years at ASU. Thank you to everyone who helped me along the way.
— GM (@g_mangone) April 4, 2014
Blue-line scoring was a weakness in ASU's game last year. Graduated senior Brett Prechel led Sun Devil defensemen in points last year with 18 in 34 games.
Mangone comes in having scored 37 points in 48 games playing in the Alberta Junior Hockey League. That divides out to .77 points per game, which would have led ASU defensemen by a large margin. Prechel led the team with .53 points per game.
Mangone said he prides himself on his work on the power play and he will bring his talents there to an already-lethal unit. ASU converted on 32 percent of power plays last year.
Powers has hinted for weeks that he plans on bringing in Canadian talent, and Mangone is the first recruit from north of the border. Mangone hails from Calgary, Alberta and will become the fifth Canadian on the roster next season.
Mangone said his parents had a place in Arizona and that he always thought about going to school at ASU, and when the opportunity presented itself, he took it.
Powers said he had been recruiting Mangone for two years, and the tipping point may have been an old player of his.
Former ASU defenseman Darcy Charrois graduated after the 2012-13 season, and is now working as an assistant coach with the Whitecourt Wolverines of the AJHL. Mangone was traded midseason from the Calgary Canucks to the Wolverines, and Charrois pushed Mangone to ASU.
"(Charrois) didn't have anything bad to say about it ever," Mangone said. "He always talked about how much fun he had here, how he got a good education, how the hockey was top-notch, and made it sound really good."
ASU graduated six forwards, one goalie and only one defenseman. He joins a blue line already stocked with high-end talent. Despite Prechel leaving, next year will feature the freshman Mangone alongside sophomores Jarrod Levos, Alex Temby, Drew Newmeyer, Troy Hoban and juniors Jordan Young and Brett Blomgren.
It's a strong group before Mangone arrived, and now with a puck-moving defenseman in the fold, it got that much better.