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ASU Hockey: Brown Preview

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Another trip back east

Richard Martinez/House of Sparky

No. 15 Arizona State (11-8) is just a few hours away from opening puck drop with the Brown Bears (3-12) out east in Providence, Rhode Island.

In what has been a tough year for the Bears, Brown has only mustered three wins thus far. Therefore, with a chance at an upset bid, ASU has to be on high alert.

The Sun Devils are coming off a series split against No. 17 Michigan Tech, and ASU is looking for its first series sweep in nearly two months.

Sitting at No. 15 in the PairWise rankings, the Sun Devils control their own destiny throughout the rest of the regular season, but they will have to pile up some more wins if they want to get off the bubble and put themselves in a more secure position for the postseason.

With another big series in store, here is more to know about the matchup with Brown this weekend:

What Time/Where To Watch

Today’s Saturday puck drop is slated for 5:00 p.m. local time, and Sunday’s game is set for 2:00 p.m. local time. Both games can be streamed via ESPN+ with a monthly subscription. Sunday’s broadcast will also be picked up on television back east on NESN.

Players to Watch

For a lineup that has been somewhat offensively starved, one of Brown’s top producers has been sophomore forward Justin Jallen. He is the team’s only player with double-digit point totals, racking up eight goals and two assists in 10 games played.

Between the Pipes

In net, Brown senior goaltender Gavin Nieto has carried the most starts and minutes for the Bears. He holds .903 save percentage and a 2.93 goals against average (GAA).

Junior backup Luke Kania has also made four appearances with a 3.11 GAA and a .905 save percentage.

Series History

It’s been a while since these two teams last met. They only got together once, but that one meeting was one of the more wild college hockey games during the 2016 season, and it had flashes of a late night, Sunday beer league game at Oceanside.

In ASU’s Desert Hockey Classic tournament that was played out in Prescott, the Sun Devils and Brown put forth an 8-8 tie with 16 combined goals.

Other Notes

-Junior forward Dom Garcia will still be out of the lineup for this weekend’s series. He is still nursing a day-to-day, lower body injury. Powers was optimistic that they could possibly get him back this week, but after further evaluation, a return is looking closer for next week at home against RIT.

“Dom, we are thinking that he will hopefully be back for RIT,” said head coach Greg Powers. “He will be out for one more weekend for sure, but hopefully Dom will be back for RIT. The good thing with Dom is that he is just so strong and so committed to taking care of his body off the ice that I think anybody that would sustain an injury that he did, they’d be out for way longer. But he’s so strong and so intent on getting back...he’s really expediting the process.”

-Following a tough stretch of games over December, ASU seems to have a much more favorable schedule against some opponents that are below them in the USCHO standings coming up.

That is no reason to down play their opponents, but Powers knows his team needs to play their best stretch of hockey to make a push toward the postseason. He addressed the urgency level in the room, and he was straight-forward discussing what lies ahead.

Most notably, he brought up an interesting statistic about some of ASU’s struggles in closing out a series this year. The Sun Devils are 11-0-1 when leading after two periods, but they are 0-4-1 when they are tied going into the final 20 minutes of the game.

“We have 14 games in front of us, the majority of which, if we play to our capacity and to our potential, then we should win,” Powers said. “That’s just the blunt truth. We control our destiny and if we don’t take care of business starting Saturday at Brown, then we don’t even deserve to talk about the tournament.”