Although it’s the offseason and the program is a few months out from its season opener, there is plenty to be excited about surrounding the Sun Devil hockey team this week. Most notably, two big additions took place, with one on the coaching staff, and the other on the ice coming over from a blue blood of NCAA college hockey.
Lack Joins the Staff
Eddie Lack, who has played seven years in the NHL between four different franchises, joined the ASU coaching staff on August 14.
After dealing with hip surgery and health complications, Lack decided to spend time with the Sun Devil staff while in hope of making a return to the professional ranks somewhere down the line. He will serve as a volunteer coach, replacing last year’s volunteer assistant Andrew Matheson, who was promoted to Director of Hockey Operations this summer.
Lack’s best season in the pros came when he first debuted with the Vancouver Canucks during the 2013-14 season. He started 37 games with a 2.41 goals against average (GAA) and four shutouts.
After two seasons in British Columbia, Lack spent time with the Carolina Hurricanes, the Calgary Flames, and the New Jersey Devils while going back and forth between the Devils’ and Flames’ American Hockey League (AHL) affiliates in Stockton, CA and Binghamton, NY.
Now at ASU, the Swedish goalie is tasked with aiding in the development of a strong goaltending battle between sophomore Evan DeBrouwer, freshman Justin Robbins, and Boston University grad transfer Max Prawdzik.
In addition to the three men between the pipes right now, the Sun Devils also got an early commitment from 16-year-old goaltender Zak Brice out of Anchorage, AK on Tuesday. He would be expected to suit up for the 2022-23 season.
Honored and proud to announce my commitment to play D1 NCAA hockey for Arizona State University. I would like to thank my family, friends, coaches, teammates, and everyone for their support along the way. #ForksUp pic.twitter.com/USX6FHINdp— Zak Brice (@Zbricer29) August 13, 2019
With the addition of Lack and a whole plethora of goalies in the works, it looks as if the netminders are getting a solid foundation laid in front of them. And similar to how head coach Greg Powers has a former NHL player in assistant coach Alex Hicks, it appears that Lack will add to that pedigree.
It’s important for the Sun Devil head coach, who wants to ensure that his players have a great opportunity to achieve their dreams of making the NHL. After former goaltender Joey Daccord opened that door last season, more Sun Devils look to follow in the footsteps.
Grando Transfers from Boston College
After playing for the all-time winningest head coach in college hockey history the past two seasons, forward Chris Grando elected to transfer from Boston College to ASU yesterday afternoon.
Grando, who played under legendary coach Jerry York, registered 25 points in two seasons with the Golden Eagles. He played 37 games in each of his two years with the program, and he was a plus-9 as a freshman in 2017-18.
The left-handed winger out of Islip, NY has to redshirt and sit out the 2019-20 season due to transfer rules, but he will look to make an impact the following season.
“We are obviously thrilled to add a player of Chris’s talent level,” said Powers in a release from Sun Devil Athletics. “He had a tremendous freshman year at BC and just needed some new scenery. He has elite speed and work ethic which will be a welcomed addition for us after he redshirts this year due to transfer rules.”
Before playing NCAA hockey, Grando played in the United States Hockey League (USHL) with the Green Bay Gamblers, where he was teammates with Sun Devil forward Brett Gruber.
BC hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament since a Frozen Four run in 2016, and the group from Chestnut Hill was swept by ASU last year in Arizona. York had nothing but high praise for the Sun Devils. He had this to say about their rapid growth:
“They’ve taken incredible strides,” York said in January. “We are always trying to grow college hockey, at least we should be, and once that new rink is built, certainly as a Hockey East member, we have to be looking at ASU as a possible bid for us...What’s not to like about a major, power-five team with hockey? I think more power-five teams that get involved, the better for all of us.”
It seems more players are taking notice of that sentiment, as Grando becomes one of two former Hockey East players to join ASU along with Prawdzik (former goalie at BU).
With Lack and Grando adding a pitchfork to their clothing, it was certainly a notable week for the program.
-Former Sun Devil forwards Jake Clifford and Anthony Croston, who both played pivotal roles on ASU’s 2018-19 run to the NCAA Tournament, both signed ECHL contracts. Croston will play with the Adirondack Thunder (an affiliate of the New Jersey Devils), while Clifford suits up for the Tulsa Oilers (affiliate of the St. Louis Blues).