The forward lines will be hotly contested, the defensive pairings will be a tough battle, but there's one position on the ice where it won't even be a question who will start.
Robert Levin is Arizona State hockey's starting goalie. His rookie season last year was superb, and it earned him a spot on the All-WCHL first team, and an even higher honor when he won the ACHA Rookie of the Year. He led the nation in goals allowed average (1.12), save percentage (.956) and tied for the lead with six shutouts in the regular season.
Then he flipped the switch to a special kind of extraordinary when the playoffs came around. He allowed four goals in the tournament with a .958 save percentage. He won all four of the games and was rewarded with the tournament MVP award.
The only real question surrounding Levin is if he will be able to replicate last season's success. Last year's senior goalie Joe D'Elia statistically had the best season of his career in his own right, and two netminder fed off each other, pushing each other to new heights. Each knew that if his game faltered, he would be riding pine in favor of the other.
This year it will be up to sophomore Lucas Felbel to block shots when Levin needs a breather. He sat patiently as the third goalie, appearing in only three games (starting two) and allowed only three goals on 48 shots. That .938 save percentage was just a hair better than D'Elia's .930, though in a much smaller sample size.
This year he will jump up a spot on the depth chart, and will undoubtably see his workload increase. By how much though, is still up to coach Greg Powers. Levin played in only 19 of the team's 36 regular season games last year, but he shared the net with another elite goaltender. It's doubtful that Powers will want to remove Levin for half the team's games, and considering the rigor of the ACHA schedule - often three games in a three-day period - Felbel could see the ice every third or fourth game.
As for the third goalie, even Powers does not know who that will be. He did not recruit a goalie, instead sticking with the Levin-Felbel combo for 2014-15. He could be a walk-on once open tryouts start, or Powers could dip into one of the Division II teams.
No matter who the third goalie will be, the first and second are in place, especially the first. Levin is a stud, and it's scary to think what he could do with a year of experience under his belt.