It has been 12 days since the No. 19 Arizona State hockey team last took the ice in an actual game.
With a much needed bye week following a rampant start to the season in which ASU didn’t have a weekend off for eight consecutive weeks, the team looked to take advantage with a little time off.
The last time ASU was on the ice in a live game was on Thanksgiving weekend against Nebraska Omaha.
The Devils got swept in the two-game series, including a 4-0 shutout on Saturday, Nov. 24, although the final score in Saturday’s game may not have been indicative of the actual game, as ASU out shot UNO by nearly a 2-1 margin, yet a 44-save shutout from Maverick senior goaltender Evan Weninger proved to be the difference.
“We are the only team in college hockey that hadn’t had a weekend off,” head coach Greg Powers said. “We started before almost everybody too. It was a long stretch of games for our guys. They were tired and went to Harvard and came back, and then they went to Omaha. They were tired, and they finished strong. We played really well Saturday, so they earned a week off. We were really light on them.”
As for how the players and coaches spent the bye week, there was off-ice workouts, recruiting tours, skill-work, a focus on special teams, and a Christmas get-together.
Already garnering some high-end skill for this year’s group, Powers and his coaching staff departed on recruiting trips with the week off, hoping to find the next platoon of future Sun Devils. That task seemed a little easier this time around with the early season success for ASU.
“I think the question mark of when we are going to become competitive on a regular basis has now been erased,” Powers said. “Kids know they have the opportunity to come here, still be a part of something special to build, but step into the situation where they know they can win right away too.”
ASU freshman forward Demetrios Koumontzis has been one of Powers’ talented recruits that he has brought in this season. During his time during the bye week, the Calgary Flames draft pick spent some extra time getting stronger in the weight room while also healing some bumps and bruises that come with a demanding hockey season.
“We got a lot of work done in the gym,” Koumontzis said. “I think overall, it went really well for everyone. We got swept the weekend before, so it was good kind of to get a break with everything, get loose, workout, get back in the gym, build some muscle, and now I think we are ready for Princeton.”
Aside from just the training and recovery, the team also got to spend some time together away from the rink during the holiday season. During the bye week, the players had a Secret Santa gift exchange that did not come without its fair share of humor.
While discussing the best gift out of the group, junior netminder Joey Daccord said the top present had to go to sophomore goal-scorer Johnny Walker.
Daccord’s roommate is sophomore defenseman Max Balinson. Daccord noted that Balinson loves taking Lime scooters around Tempe, and Walker took that to heart, riding one of the electric scooters to the holiday gathering and leaving it as a Secret Santa gift for the blue-liner.
The gift was one of many humorous exchanges throughout the evening, including dumbbells as a gift for redshirt freshman forward Austin Lemieux, implying to “hit the weight room.”
Altogether, it was all a part of the bye week for the Devils. It was an opportunity to rest, recover, and take advantage of a week off during a grueling college hockey season. Recharged and ready to go, the Sun Devils are back out on the road this weekend to take on Princeton in a two-game series.
“I think you kind of get to be a little bit more of a college student for a week, which we don’t always get to enjoy,” Daccord said of the bye week. “I think we got to spend a lot of really quality time together and hang out...It just kind of brings us closer together as a team, and I think it was a really good week for us.”