When the Sun Devils take ice Friday night, it will be without arguably their best playmaker. Sophomore forward Ryan Ostertag, who scored a hat trick on opening night and six points overall in the weekend, is out with an undisclosed injury.
"He's not someone that you can just throw someone in to replace," sophomore forward Sean Murphy said. "Obviously he's a huge loss, he brings a lot of speed and offensive capabilities every night."
Ostertag had played on the top line in the first two games with senior center Liam Norris and junior winger Chris Blessing. With Ostertag out, the top line is expected to be Norris in the middle, with Murphy and junior Ryan Belonger on the wings.
"We all like to move the puck, we all like to get open and we can all finish," Murphy said. "I think we'll have a nice triple threat there with three offensive playmakers."
The top line shakeup isn't the only notable lineup change. Junior captain Brett Blomgren and sophomore Drew Newmeyer had anchored the starting defensive pair, not only in the first weekend but for most of last season as well. They started all four games at nationals, but they will be split up this weekend.
At practice Thursday, Blomgren was paired with sophomore Jarrod Levos, who is making his season debut after recovering from a preseason elbow injury. Newmeyer was paired with freshman Gianni Mangone, who scored his first Sun Devil goal Saturday against Niagara.
"It'll be different, but it won't be too big of a deal," Newmeyer said on the change. "You still play hockey and you still play the same way. Me and Gianni just need to get some chemistry going."
The defense was the blunt of coach Greg Powers' criticism coming out of Saturday. He praised Mangone and his other pair of freshman Ed McGovern and sophomore Connor Schmidt, he was critical of, among other players, the captain Blomgren. The thinking here is obvious, that a pairing change could jumpstart the defense.
Another player to watch is sophomore goalie Robert Levin. He allowed three goals in both games in the weekend, only the second and third time in his career he allowed that many. Powers said after Saturday's game he was off, but had confidence he would bounce back.
West Chester will be making its season debut, coming out of the Eastern States Collegiate League, and it is the first trip in school history to Arizona State.
- Sophomore forward Ryan Ostertag is out this weekend, after sustaining an undisclosed injury in practice Tuesday. He is out for at least the weekend, and possibly more time.
- Sophomore defenseman Jarrod Levos will make his season debut this weekend after missing the previous two games with an elbow injury.
- Sophomore defenseman Alex Temby is out this weekend with an aggravation of a previous lower body injury. He was in a gold no-contact jersey in some practice last week because of it, but played fully in both games against Niagara. He missed practice Wednesday and Thursday.
- Junior assistant captain and defenseman Jordan Young is out, still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. Originally he was expected to miss the entire first half of the season, but Powers said it is possible he plays after the Minot State series, next weekend Oct 3-4.