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ASU Hockey: Freshmen defensemen ready to make an impact

A look at the youngsters on the blue line

Photo Courtesy: Riley Trujillo/Sun Devil Athletics

They were sitting by the pool at their freshmen dorm when the song came on. From there, the lyrics flowed and their voices came out. A duet was formed on a triple-digit day in Arizona.

Jack Judson and Jacob Semik, two of Arizona State’s highly-touted freshmen defensemen, have developed chemistry long before they even touch the ice for their first-ever regular season collegiate games in Tempe. The first-year college roommates have formed a bond through the popular song, ‘Eastside’, by Khalid and Halsey.

“He tries to nail Khalid’s part, and I try to nail Halsey’s,” Judson said. “I think we got something there.”

As much as their singing might be a bonus, head coach Greg Powers didn’t recruit the blue-liners for their vocals, however. He brought them in to step on the ice and play right away.

“On the back end, we think that the two freshmen defensemen in Judson and Semik are dynamite,” Powers said. “They are just absolutely dynamite and they are ready to make an impact right away. They are steady and they are responsible...They are really good. If they round out our d-core, our d-core is built.”

On a blue line that has nine players who can play consistently, Judson and Semik are the only two freshmen.

They aren’t just being eased into things with a veteran defense partner as well. Both guys played as a righty, lefty pairing during ASU’s exhibition games in China over the summer, and they have played together throughout practices.

“We haven’t split up yet so we just have developed some good chemistry over the time that we have played together,” Semik said. “It’s been going well and we are really getting used to each other.”

Both 19-year-olds come to Arizona amongst familiar faces, too. Semik, a 6-foot-1, 174-pound Canton, Michigan native who is a former member of the Dubuque Fighting Saints in the United States Hockey League (USHL), was teammates with current Sun Devil forwards William Knierim and James Sanchez.

He was also a former defense partner with sophomore Josh Maniscalco, who totaled 20 points in 35 games playing alongside senior captain Brinson Pasichnuk last year. Assistant coach Mike Field, who used to be behind the bench with the Fighting Saints as a coach, continues to patrol that area well in search of high-end talent.

“I played with Josh in Dubuque in the USHL and we have been pretty close over the years. It’s nice to have somebody that I am comfortable going to with anything, and he’s obviously a great player for our team,” Semik said. “It’s awesome to have a connection there and be familiar with some faces coming here with Sanchez and Knierim also from Dubuque. It’s great to have a lot of guys from here.”

Judson on the other hand, is a native of White Rock, British Columbia in Western Canada. He played in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) with the Vernon Vipers and was teammates with ASU sophomore forward Jordan Sandhu, where he tallied 26 assists and 32 points in 50 games played.

Standing next to one another while answering questions, Judson and Semik are evident of the recruiting pipelines that have struck Tempe.

Field’s ties with Dubuque have mixed well with the grove of Western Canadian talent that has come down to the states. Last year, Pasichnuk deemed ASU as “Canada West.” That’s only fitting considering Judson competed with the U-19 Canada West team at the 2018 World Junior A Championship in Bonnyville, Alberta.

“I don’t think this program has ever had a d-core like we do this year,” Pasichnuk said. “There’s nine of us, and literally any single one of us can play any single night and be effective out there...It’s exciting with Semik and Judder (Judson). They are studs, and they look really mature for being freshmen.”

Furthermore, Semik played with the United States National U-17 team in 2016-17, and he competed with current NHL players such as Ottawa Senator Brady Tkachuk and Vancouver Canuck Quinn Hughes at the 2017 CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game in Buffalo, NY. The head coaches for the game were former NHLers’ Chris Chelios and Brian Leetch.

“It’s obviously an honor and it’s something I don’t take for granted,” said Semik of playing for Team USA. “It’s great to play with players of that caliber and honestly I am just grateful that I was able to have that shot. It just prepares you for the next level because you are playing with the best guys.”

One wore the stars and stripes, the other a maple leaf. They both come to ASU as steady, young defensemen who are being trusted. They might not play every night, but they will get their opportunities, and they are learning everyday.

On a deep defense, Judson and Semik can be viewed as building blocks, and their future seems bright.

“We have guys that we believe in and that can play,” Powers said. “Adding the two freshmen that we did, they are very high end and it really rounds out our d-core to where it’s a battle to get in. We are going to have guys that aren’t playing on Saturday that could play for a lot of teams.”

There’s no telling what Saturday night’s opening night lineup will look like with so many options at different spots on the ice. Regardless, Judson and Semik are ready when their number is called. From the pool at their dorm to the ice at Oceanside Arena, the duo is geared up to sing, and to begin their collegiate careers.

They have their vocals, and their sticks ready.

“Maybe you will see that duet at some point,” said Judson with a smile talking about singing Eastside and beginning the season.

Right next to him, his freshman counterpart chimed in.

“We are waiting for the call-up,” Semik said. “Right now, we are rookies and we got to make our way.”