Connor Schmidt scored the first goal for Arizona State as a Division 1 hockey program last Saturday. Having a couple of days to think about it, Schimdt feels just as speechless as he did that night.
"I mean, thinking about it’s so surreal. Talking to my parents after the game, I said ‘they’re kind of blowing this out of proportion a little’ but they told me ‘not really, you made history and not a lot of people get the opportunity to do something like that’. It’s a really humbling experience," the junior defensemen said.
Schmidt is about to turn 22 years old, and is one of a handful of Sun Devils with previous NCAA experience. Between his freshman and sophomore seasons, Schmidt played in 43 games for Ferris State in Michigan. Now with ASU, he relies on that experience to help lead his teammates.
"It’s helped a ton. I mean Division I is just a different style of games, a different pace. Just letting the boys know that and just that I’ve been there before. I played there when I was 18 and 19 years old and now I’m about to turn 22, just that maturity level that I’ve gained and experience that I have, I try to pass on to the younger guys," Schmidt said.
ASU hockey is on the road this weekend playing in the Kendall Hockey Classic in Alaska, their first two games against Division 1 programs. The name of the game for the Sun Devils is simplicity.
"Just play simple, really. Get the first goal of each game, that’s probably our biggest keys and things we should focus on the most. In division one, less is more. Just keep it simple and grind it out," Schmidt said.
It was an impressive start for the Sun Devils, defeating UofA 8-1 in front of a large crowd at Gila River Arena. Still, Schmidt entered the season having his doubts about this team.
"I wasn’t sure how we were going to look this year, having a lot of new guys. I had my doubts in the offseason. I’m learning that anything is possible if we stick together as a team and we work on our systems and we believe in ourselves that we can compete at this level," he said.
Combine those new players with the jump to the Division I level and it's understandable how Schmidt could feel that way. Division I brings a faster pace, Schmidt mentioned, along with a higher talent level. Talent that can be trusted on a no look pass, an example from Schmidt that illustrated that type of chemistry that the team wants to build.
When ASU hockey plays their first game against a Division I opponent Friday night, the history making will continue for the Sun Devils as they play through their first season in Division I.
History will a word that embodies this season for the Sun Devils, and for Connor Schmidt.