The road to the repeat just got a little harder for the ASU hockey team.
Coach Greg Powers announced Friday afternoon that star goalie Robert Levin sustained a torn right ACL in last Saturday's game against Arizona. Levin will miss the national tournament and recovery is expected to take between six and eight months.
"My biggest regret is I just feel horrible for him," Powers said. "He's earned the right through being such a great goalie all season to be on the ice when it matters most and he's not going to be able to be there for us.
"He's earned the right to be out there when we win this."
Levin has played in 33 of the team's 39 games, posting a 1.78 goals against average, .933 save percentage and a career-high nine shutouts. He played all four of ASU's games in last year's national tournament, allowing only four goals and being named tournament MVP.
Levin has not practiced all week and visited the doctor Monday. He underwent an MRI and called Powers Thursday night to tell him the news.
The Sun Devils will now turn to the combination of sophomore Lucas Felbel and freshman Jordan Gluck. The two have combined to play in only six games with a 2.32 goals against average and a .910 save percentage.
As to who starts next Friday in ASU's first game, Powers has yet to make a decision. The team plays an intrasquad scrimmage Friday night, which could go a long way in making that call.
"Our team will be fine," Powers said. "We have good leadership and good experience and good depth and they'll rally around Lucas and Jordan and the expectation will be to go to Cleveland and come back winning a national championship."
Levin's injury occurred in what essentially was an exhibition game. ASU had already been named the top seed for the national tournament and Arizona had already been eliminated from contention.
But Powers said at no point did he consider sitting Levin Saturday. Levin did not have a sharp game Friday, allowing three goals on 32 shots, and wanted him Saturday. He also gave Levin the option of playing, which he took.
"I wouldn't do anything different," Powers said. "He needed to play in that game. It's hockey, it happens."
Levin said after the game Saturday that he tweaked his knee in the second period then aggravated it in the third. Powers said he believes the real injury occurred in the third, meaning Levin played the second half of the third period with a torn ACL.
"It just proves how tough of a kid he is and how much of a hockey player he is that he tore his ACL and he stayed in the game," Powers said. "That, in a nutshell, wraps up Rob Levin."
Powers said it is time for the team to embrace the "next man up" mentality. He likened it to sophomore forward Ryan Ostertag missing all but two games this season, six players leaving for the World University Games and captain Brett Blomgren missing an extended period of time.
"Good programs with good winning cultures and depth get through situations like this," Powers said. "Our plan is to get through it and our plan is to go defend our national championship no matter who's in net, no matter's who's on the ice. It doesn't matter."