Searching to get back to its winning ways, Arizona State (3-6-1) is looking to snap a three-game losing skid when the Sun Devils take the ice in Columbus for a two-game series with Ohio State (3-5) this weekend.
Led by head coach Steve Rohlik, the Buckeyes are fresh off a split last weekend against Notre Dame.
These two matchups in Ohio cap off ASU’s last two games of its 36-day road trip in the midwest. The Sun Devils will return to Arizona for the Christmas holiday before heading back out on the road for a second portion of the schedule that has yet to be announced.
In hopes of a positive end to the first half, here’s an outlook of the series going into this weekend:
What Time/Where To Watch
Both games on Thursday, Dec. 17 and Friday, Dec. 18 drop the puck at 3:30 p.m. local time and can be viewed on Big Ten Network Plus with a paid subscription.
Players to Watch
Leading Ohio State offensively has been freshman forward Travis Treloar. He has eight points in eight games played, including five assists.
Additionally, sophomore forward Mark Cheremata has seven points, including six assists in his eight games played.
On the blue line, the Buckeyes have two NHL draft picks in seventh-round Toronto Maple Leafs pick Ryan O’Connell and 2019 Vegas Golden Knights third-round pick Layton Ahac.
Between The Pipes
Ohio State has pretty much been a one-man show with senior netminder Tommy Nappier. He has played in all eight of the Buckeyes games, holding a .923 save percentage and 2.58 goals against average in over 460 minutes of action.
Sophomore Ryan Snowden has been Nappier’s backup, but has only appeared in one game and played just over 10 minutes in his one outing.
All-time, ASU is 0-3-1 against Ohio State, with the most recent meeting between the two programs coming in 2018 at Oceanside Ice Arena.
Ranked as the No. 1 team in the nation, the Buckeyes would be the only team all year to come out of Tempe with a two-game sweep, narrowly holding on for two wins with a 3-2 game on Friday night and a 3-0 shutout in game two. Nappier was in net to blank ASU in the shutout bid.
Then in the older series between these two schools, ASU earned a loss and a tie in Columbus in January 2017. After being blown out 6-1 in the first game against Ohio State, the Sun Devils rallied and earned a 2-2 tie against the then-ranked No. 10 Buckeyes.
ASU won the shootout of that second game, but it still goes down as a tie in college hockey.
What coaches/players had to say about the opponent:
Coach Powers: “They are young but very well-coached with very good goaltending. They’re a team that is hard to generate on and they’re kind of like a younger version of Notre Dame. They are really well structured and it doesn’t matter who they play. They are going to play nose-to-nose and until the wire. The goalie they have is a veteran guy who’s really tough to penetrate and score on so we’re going to have to get in his eyes and get him moving and be creative to score goals against this kid.”
-ASU will once again be without captain and forward Johnny Walker this weekend as he continues to recover from his lower body injury. Walker hasn’t appeared in a game since the Michigan State series in the second week of the season.
-For Sun Devil hockey fans, this is welcomed and long-awaited news. On Wednesday, the ASU athletic department announced the commencement of the hockey program’s 5,000-seat multi-purpose arena that has been in the works for the past few years.
The on-campus, state of the art facility will be south of Rio Salado Parkway and east of Packard Drive. It is set to begin construction in January 2021, and finish in December 2022.
We're excited to announce the commencement of construction on a new Multi-Purpose Arena that will be home to @ASUWrestling, @SunDevilGym and @SunDevilHockey!https://t.co/Sv0NlBvg4E pic.twitter.com/Rs4a3rZk8v— Arizona State Sun Devils (@TheSunDevils) December 16, 2020
The completed arena project is expected to open many doors for the Sun Devil hockey program, including help with recruiting, ticket revenue, and even possible conference discussions for the current independent program.
“This venue will not only provide an elite student-athlete experience, but will be an asset to our community and continue to bring life to the Novus Innovation Corridor,” said Vice President for University Athletics Ray Anderson in a statement. “There has been so much work done behind the scenes to get to this point, and we look forward to debuting it to our fans and the local community.”
-Road warriors. While the last few games haven’t gone ASU’s way with a trio of heartbreaking losses, the Sun Devils still have reason to hold their heads high.
In a daunting road schedule unlike any ever seen before, the program has withstood some punches and held its own against some of the top-tier programs in the country.
Although the record right now isn’t pretty or where they want it to be, Powers feels whether his team makes a stretch run or not, this season is only going to help in the future.
“What we’re going through under the circumstances of this amount of days on the road and being away from home and playing all road games, what it’s going to do for us long-term and growing our program and what our guys are learning...next year, look out,” Powers said. “We are going to be a handful for going through this and it’s going to make us better.”