Last season No. 6 Oklahoma snapped No. 1 ASU's 24-game winning streak in the first weekend after Christmas break. This season, the Sun Devils will get a chance at revenge when the Sooners come to town for a Thursday night showdown at Oceanside Ice Arena.
ASU has a different look from when it went to Oklahoma in October, getting some key players back from injury, as well as one line in particular with a special level of intrigue.
Faiz Khan is expected to make his season debut after missing last semester with an undisclosed ineligibility, while the other wing will be occupied by NCAA transfer David Norris. Centering that line will be Ryan Belonger, making his ASU debut at that position.
"My intuition was there to play him there all along," coach Greg Powers said. "Belonger is so good defensively, it's just a natural fit. He actually wants to do it."
What's clear about that line is Powers expects Khan to immediately jump in and make an impact instead of waning him in with bottom-six minutes. Khan has been practicing all semester, but Thursday will be his first game of the season.
As for Norris, he compares favorably to his brother Liam's playmaking ability. Powers expects big things from the trio.
"They're all three really good players," Powers said. "That should be a really good line, the energy should be really high."
The Norris brothers were unable to convince Powers to play them together, David said. Instead, Liam will remain on the top line with sophomores Eric Rivard and Sean Murphy at his wings.
Oklahoma comes in with a 15-5-2 record and a goal differential of +47 in those 22 games. The Sooners split a two-game set to finish the first-half of the season and have won five of their last six overall.
The offensive stats are top-heavy for the Sooners, with two players with at least 33 points and no one else above 21. Senior forward Bryce Johnson leads the team with 17 goals and is second in assists with 16.
Points leader junior forward Jordan Greenberg bears a resemblance to Sun Devil points leader Liam Norris. They both stand within two inches of six-feet tall have a similar statline. Norris has recorded 10-23-33 in 23 games for ASU while Oklahoma has received 12-23-35 production in 22 games from Greenberg.
Puck drop is scheduled for 8:15 p.m. at Oceanside Ice Arena in Tempe.
Halloween in Madison
While the entire 2015-16 has yet to be released, Andy Baggot of the Wisconsin State Journal reported Tuesday that the Sun Devils will visit the University of Wisconsin in late October. It the first leg of a home-and-home series which will see the Badgers come to Tempe in a later season.