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ASU Hockey: Omaha Preview

Off to the Midwest

Richard Martinez/House of Sparky

Fresh off a series split, No. 16 Arizona State (9-5-2) is back out on the road this weekend to take on Nebraska Omaha (7-7-2) in the Midwest.

Similar to ASU, the Mavericks also picked up a series split on the road last weekend when they took on St. Cloud State.

Omaha currently sits at No. 32 in the PairWise rankings, and they are in last place in an ultra-competitive National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) with a record of 2-5-1.

The conference itself boasts four teams in the USCHO top-20 at the moment, including No. 1 North Dakota and the two-time defending National Champion Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs, who sit at No. 10 in the rankings.

With a chance to pick up more quality road wins, ASU will look to do damage in the middle of the country. Here is more to know about the series:

What Time/Where to Watch

This weekend will be another Saturday/Sunday set. Saturday’s game drops the puck at 6:07 p.m. local time, and Sunday’s game begins at 3:07 p.m. local time.

The matchups can be viewed online with an NCHC.tv paid subscription, or you can listen online with Omaha’s radio network, 1180 The Zone 2.

Players to Watch

Despite a tough go of things in conference play, Omaha’s lineup is still filled with talent and they are capable of doing damage. Most notably, junior forward Kevin Conley has 14 points with eight assists and sophomore forward Taylor Ward has 11 points with seven goals.

Ward is tied for the team lead in goals along with senior forward Zach Jordan. Additionally, senior defenseman Ryan Jones is a name to highlight as a strong, stay at home d-man on the Maverick blue line.

He was selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the fourth-round of the 2016 NHL Draft, and the Mavs have four NHL picks on their team.

Between the Pipes

As noted above, Omaha has four picks, and one of them is in net. Freshman goaltender Isaiah Saville was selected in the fifth-round by the Las Vegas Golden Knights this summer, and he has been the No. 1 man in goal for the Mavs.

He holds a .889 save percentage with a 3.04 goals against average for a young goaltending tandem in Omaha. The team’s backup goaltender is also a freshman, as Austin Roden has made three starts behind Saville.

Series History

All-time, ASU is 2-5-1 against Omaha. The Sun Devils’ first two wins against the program came last October when ASU scored 13 goals over the course of two games in Tempe.

In the second matchup, then sophomore forward Johnny Walker put on a clinic by scoring four power play goals in one night.

Despite the successful weekend, the Mavs returned the favor later in the season. ASU would go out to Omaha a month later in November, and the Sun Devils were swept at Baxter Arena.

Other Notes

Aside from just this weekend’s series, ASU has been picking up traction on the recruiting front. Over the last week, head coach Greg Powers has gotten three commitments.

Among those players are Michael Mancinelli, Ryan O’Reilly, and Paul Minnehan.

The trio is currently all playing for different junior teams in the United States Hockey League (USHL), and O’Reilly is a 2018 fourth-round pick of the Detroit Red Wings. He was formerly committed to Denver.