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ASU Hockey: Quinnipiac Preview

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A familiar foe

Richard Martinez/House of Sparky

It’s a chance at payback for Arizona State (3-3) as it plays host for a two-game series with No. 9 Quinnipiac (4-1) this weekend at Oceanside Arena.

Fresh in the minds of the team is a loss against the Bobcats during last year’s opening round of the NCAA Tournament in which the Devils fell 2-1 in Allentown, PA.

Quinnipiac returns a plethora of talent from that team, but they have lost a few key figures on the back end of their defense and in net, including a Hobey Baker Finalist in defenseman Chase Priskie. Find out more about the matchup, and learn more about the group from Hamden, CT:

What Time/Where to Watch

The series takes place this weekend on Nov. 1 and 2. Both matchups drop the puck at 7:05 p.m. local time, and they can be streamed on the Pac-12 live stream.

Players to Watch

Up front, Quinnipiac returns a lot of skill from last year’s NCAA Tournament run. Junior forward Odeen Tufto is leading the Bobcats in points with seven, and sophomore forward Wyatt Bongiovanni has six points. Last year’s roster featured a whole grove of freshmen talent, and they all return this season.

Between the Pipes

In goal, junior Keith Petruzelli has been the man for Quinnipiac. He is a 2017 third-round selection of the Detroit Red Wings, and he is taking over for last season’s goaltender, Andrew Shortridge. Shortridge used to train in the offseason with former ASU goaltender Joey Daccord, and both netminders were among the best in college hockey last year.

Daccord is now in the ECHL with the Ottawa Senators, while Shortridge is in the American Hockey League (AHL) with the San Jose Sharks.

With Petruzelli now in the mix, there has been no drop off in goal. Through five starts, he has a 2.23 goals against average with a .909 save percentage.

Series History

In its infant years, ASU obviously didn’t have too much history with any team in Division I hockey as a new program. However, five years into things, Quinnipiac is a common foe. This will be the seventh and eighth time that the Sun Devils have played the Bobcats in five seasons.

They have played against them every year, and ASU’s lone victory against the adversary came on Jan. 28, 2017 when the Devils upset a then ranked No. 17 Bobcats squad back east.

Head coach Greg Powers has consistently praised Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold for his continued efforts to schedule ASU and welcome them with open arms into NCAA hockey.

Pecknold took over the program in 1994 in the midst of a move from Division II hockey to D-1, and he has brought nothing but success to the program, tallying over 500 wins while reaching the Frozen Four multiple times.

Both teams know each other very well, and when asked if this was considered a rivalry, Powers had this to say:

“I wouldn’t say a rivalry but definitely a familiarity,” Powers said. “We know they’re really good, incredibly well-coached, and incredibly well-structured...We are going to have to be at our best.”

What the Players/Coaches Had to say about the opponent:

Make no mistake about last year’s postseason defeat. This weekend’s matchup has been stowed away in the hearts of players from last year’s team for quite some time.

There’s no animosity toward Quinnipiac, but there is definitely a feeling of payback, and many guys in the Sun Devil locker room believe it will be an emotional affair come Friday night. Here’s what they had to say:

Senior captain and defenseman Brinson Pasichnuk: “When you are playing a team like Quinnipiac from last year, I think it definitely brings back a lot of memories, and it’s just motivation now because it sucks. I am still heartbroken from last year. It was the best year this program ever had, and we were this close to making it that much more special and these guys took it from us, so we’re ready.”

Sophomore forward Demetrios Koumontzis: “Coach Powers has been talking about it, and this game is going to mean a lot more to everyone. They kicked us out of our first tournament ever, so it’s definitely a big game for us, but at the same time, it’s just another game to get two points and get a win.”

Powers on last year’s matchup:

“I shouldn’t have to remind them about last year. They knocked us out last year and they outplayed us, and they deserved to win that game. Hopefully the guys that are here remember that and use it as fuel to fuel the fire.”

Other Notes:

-For the second consecutive series, senior forward Brett Gruber will be out of the lineup due to an upper body injury. Powers said that he is likely to return sometime before or after ASU’s series with Alaska-Fairbanks on Nov. 8 and 9. Gruber is one of the Sun Devils top penalty killers and face-off men, and Powers noted that he will be missed in those areas.

-Junior defenseman Max Balinson, who is also returning from injury, is easing his way back to full speed and health. Power said it is unlikely to see him this weekend, but anything is possible.

-Sophomore goaltender Evan DeBrouwer has appeared to grab the reigns as ASU’s No. 1 goaltender in recent weeks. He recorded a shutout and a 38-save performance in two games against Air Force last time out. His confidence is growing, and that’s something he addressed after being in a backup role last year.

“I am taking everything in like a sponge right now. I am still kind of a rookie, and it kind of feels like my rookie year,” DeBrouwer said. “I think it’s getting back into game form, and just getting use to the speed. It’s kind of like when you first get your driver’s license and hop on the freeway for the first time. Everything feels really fast and there’s a lot going on, but as you start driving more, everything slows down and it doesn’t seem so fast anymore.”