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ASU Hockey: Previewing the schedule– Top 10 matchups to watch

Who will the Sun Devils need to go through in order to raise the Murdoch Cup again? We look at some of the key meetings.

Michelle Hekle/Hekle Photo Images

Arizona State hockey is right around the corner. The puck drops on the title defense in just over four weeks, and the Sun Devils will begin their 41-game journey back to the postseason. Twenty-two of those games will be at Oceanside Ice Arena in Tempe, with most of the remaining streamed online. So which games - home and away - should you be sure to see? Check out our top 10.

Sept. 19 vs. Niagara
It's been a long six months since took the Sun Devils took the ice, and the wait comes to an end Sept. 19. Arizona State didn't do itself any favors with scheduling this year, passing over the tradition Division II warmups and jumping right into a team that was on the cusp of the national tournament. It's not a big-time opponent, but it's opening night for Sun Devil hockey.

Oct. 11 vs. Arizona
It's not the first game of the season against Arizona (that's Oct. 10, the night before), but it's definitely the most must-see. It's on Oct. 11 when the Sun Devils will raise their national championship banner. Rival in town and a banner unveiling- If you were to go to one game this season, it might want to be this one.

Oct. 17 @ Oklahoma
The Sooners handed Arizona State its first loss of the season last year in Tempe, and they were also ranked second at the national tournament. Oklahoma was arguably the best team Arizona State faced all of last season, and it is the first trip the Sun Devils will make to Norman, Oklahoma. The Sooners also visit Jan. 8.

Oct. 30 vs Colorado
Remember Alex Palumbo? As a freshman last year, the Buffaloes' goalie blocked 68 shots on Nov. 2 in Tempe, and looked unbeatable through two periods. He ran out of gas in the third, but it's tough to blame him, especially considering he made 44 saves the night before. Oct. 30 is Colorado's only trip to Tempe.

Nov. 8 @ Stony Brook
Stony Brook was the only team to take a lead against Arizona State in the national tournament, and it led the semifinal game 3-2 at the second intermission. The Seawolves will have that fresh on their mind when they host the Sun Devils.

Nov. 13 vs. Minot State
Outside of the Arizona Wildcats, the Minot State Beavers are the Sun Devils' top ACHA rival. The two teams met on Nov. 7 of last season in a matchup of No. 1 vs. No. 2-ranked teams. Arizona State won that game, then won the rematch in national tournament. The two teams will play in North Dakota the first weekend in October, but the visit in mid-November is the only meeting in Tempe.

Jan. 2 vs Arizona Coyotes Alumni
Last year's game was such a rousing success, the two teams decided to tango again. Last season saw the alumni take home the win, led by Coyotes' color commentator Tyson Nash, who even scored a goal. Who will strap on the skates again this season?

Jan. 16 vs. Lindenwood
Athletes have a long memory, and the older Sun Devils and the coaching staff won't have forgotten March 5, 2013. Arizona State was seeded second in the national tournament, and rolled into its quarterfinal game against No. 9 Lindenwood. The Lions pulled the upset, winning 6-4 and sent the Sun Devils home. It will be the first meeting since that game.

Jan. 31 vs Arizona
It's the last Cactus Cup game in Tempe, and redemption will be on the Sun Devils' mind. It was in the last game in Tempe last season that the Wildcats ended the 37-game losing streak they had to their Tempe-based rival. Unless Arizona State fans want to make the trek down to Tucson, it will be their last chance to see the Wildcats.

Feb. 14 vs. Syracuse
Need a date for Valentine's Day? How about the last home game of the season. Syracuse makes the first visit to Tempe in its history, and it closes the careers on two Sun Devils. It will be the last chance to see seniors Liam Norris and Faiz Khan in an Arizona State uniform.