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ASU Hockey: Alaska Fairbanks Preview

Off to see the Nanooks

Richard Martinez/House of Sparky

Following a sweep of a ranked opponent, Arizona State (5-3) is back out on the road this weekend to take on Alaska Fairbanks (5-5) of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA).

The Nanooks are off to a better start than some people may have anticipated under head coach Erik Largen. Largen’s team was swept by No. 1 Denver to begin the season, but since then, Alaska Fairbanks earned a split on the road by upsetting No. 6 Penn State by a 4-0 final, and they swept Michigan Tech on the road.

Last weekend, Alaska recorded a series split at home against Bemidji State. Here are a few more things to know about the matchup with ASU:

What Time/Where To Watch

If you’re looking for a late night double dose of Sun Devil Athletic action, then you’re in luck this Friday. While you might be watching the men’s basketball opener in China that tips off at 8:30 p.m. local time, hockey will be dropping the puck in Fairbanks shortly after.

Due to Alaska Standard Time, both matchups with the Nanooks get underway at 9:07 p.m. local time on Friday and Saturday. Both games can be streamed on FloHockey with a paid subscription.

Players to Watch

Leading the charge offensively for Alaska is a forward and a defenseman. Junior forward Max Newton has seven points, and senior defenseman Tristan Thompson has six to lead scorers for the Nanooks.

Additionally, junior forward Justin Young and sophomore defenseman Chris Jandric both have four points a piece on a pretty well-rounded stat sheet thus far for Alaska.

Between The Pipes

In net, the Nanooks have seen both of their European netminders get a healthy amount of minutes. Senior Anton Martinsson out of Sweden has logged six games played with a .933 save percentage and a 2.25 goals against average, and he has three wins.

Just behind him is sophomore Gustavs Grigals of Latvia, who currently holds a .881 save percentage and a 2.92 goals against average. Expect either player to see action against the Sun Devils this weekend.

Series History

ASU kicked off its historic season last year by sweeping, and blanking Alaska at home twice. The Sun Devils won game one 3-0, and took game two by final of 5-0.

All-time, the Sun Devils are 3-0 against the Nanooks, with the only other victory occurring during the inaugural 2015-16 hybrid season (ACHA/NCAA schedule). ASU won that meeting 2-1.

What the Players had to say about the oppponent:

Freshman forward Logan Jenuwine: “We are excited. After this, we have two weekends off so it’s going to be the last games for a few weeks. We are excited to get in there and carry on what we’ve been doing the last two weekends and hopefully pull out two wins.”

Other Notes:

-Inury watch: ASU has played well in its last four games, but they have been without some bodies. Junior defenseman Max Balinson has been working his way back from injury, and forwards Brett Gruber and Fil Buncis will both be out with upper body injuries at Alaska this weekend.

Additionally, the group might be more thin in net with just sophomore Evan DeBrouwer and graduate transfer Max Prawdzik. During the middle of Saturday’s matchup with Quinnipiac, a freak accident occurred on the bench when freshman goaltender Justin Robbins had the bench door close on his finger, and it got jammed in the door. The news was first reported by Greg Cameron of College Hockey News.

After the game, head coach Greg Powers said that Robbins will “be out for a while.” Thus, it appears the Sun Devils have two available netminders, though, DeBrouwer has been the No. 1 man, making the team’s last six starts in net.

-USCHO poll. After ASU swept the No. 9 team in the country, it did not crack a spot in the USCHO top-20. The Sun Devils garnered 28 votes, but are still on the outside looking in. To them, that doesn’t matter, and Powers made that clear.

“We don’t care. We don’t look at it. The USCHO poll means nothing,” Powers said. “It’s paper champions...We care about one thing, and that’s the PairWise rankings. We play to the PairWise, and we worry about ourselves. We don’t care what anybody thinks of us.”