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ASU Hockey: Reinvigorated Sun Devils get boost heading into season's second half

ASU will suit up four players this weekend that did not play in last semester's final month.

Dominic Valente/House of Sparky

Professional sports have trade deadlines, and after a certain date, no more trades can be made. So teams can make wholesale changes to their team on the deadline.

ASU hockey doesn't have a trade deadline, but that didn't stop the wholesale changes once the second half of the season rolled around.

"It just invigorates us," coach Greg Powers said. "Everybody likes shiny new toys to play with and we have plenty of them."

Among players who will suit up this weekend who did not play in the last month of the first semester: David Norris (transfer), Faiz Khan (ineligible), Patrick Yudez (foot) and Gianni Mangone (leg).

Norris, younger brother of current Sun Devil Liam, will be playing in his first career game at ASU after transferring from NCAA American International. Mangone came over this season has a highly regarded prospect from Alberta while Yudez was expected to take a big leap forward in his production after last season's national title run, but suffered injury just three games into the season.

Yudez spent most of last season collecting bottom-six forward minutes, but after the Yudez-Dave Jantzie-Troy Scott line dominated at nationals and Jantzie and Scott dominated, Yudez was expected to be a top point-producer for the Sun Devils. He didn't register a point before his injury and he will finally get his chance Thursday.

"Honestly I'm a little rusty, but it feels great to be back out," Yudez said. "Definitely a few more cobwebs to shake off and get the ankle more supported but overall good. I'm happy where I'm at right now."

Khan in particular will be a player to keep an eye on. He had a strong sophomore season two years ago, notching 13 goals and 14 assists skating on a line with Colin Hekle and Dan Styrna. After Styrna graduated, Khan couldn't quite find the right chemistry last season, going 9-9-18 in 33 games.

Regardless of who he plays with, it's been since the national title game that Khan has played in a collegiate game.

"I'm anxious, I'm itching to get back out there," Khan said. "It'll be a learning process the first couple of shifts, but I've been working hard this whole semester and t shouldn't be that much of a change."

Khan has been practicing fully all semester, but he has not been allowed to play for undisclosed reasons. So on gameday, Khan was dressed in his suit and tie watching from outside the boards.

"It was hard," he said. "I just had to stay positive, be a good cheerleader for the guys and help whenever they needed it. Any extra work they wanted to do, I have the time."

The season returns from break Thursday at 8:15 p.m. against Oklahoma, then Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. against Central Oklahoma. All games are at Oceanside Ice Arena in Tempe.

Not quite 100 percent

While the Sun Devils get an influx of talent back this weekend, one notable name will miss his target return date of this weekend. Sophomore forward Ryan Ostertag will not play in this weekend's games, but Powers said he is hopeful to have him back in two weeks against Stony Brook.

Ostertag burst onto the scene in the second-half of last season, earning a spot on the top line at the national tournament. He scored two goals in the national title game, and recorded a hat trick on opening night this season. In three games before his injury, he had four goals and three assists for seven points.