For the last four years, Johnny Walker has been the face of Arizona State’s hockey program. From the moment he first donned a maroon-and-gold jersey as a freshman back in 2017, Walker’s highlight-reel goals and competitive flare made him a fan favorite in Tempe.
During his illustrious career with the Sun Devils, Walker has rewritten the team’s record books and played a key role in its rise to contention. Now, as he returns for his fifth and final year as a Sun Devil, Walker is hoping to finish what he helped start by leading ASU back to the NCAA tournament.
As was the case for most of Arizona State’s roster, last season was not kind to Walker. He missed ten games with a knee injury and never seemed to fully regain his form after returning to the lineup. While he did have some signature moments, including a spectacular lacrosse-style goal against Minnesota that landed him on SportsCenter, the season was a disappointing one overall and Walker felt he had unfinished business to attend to.
While ASU averaged a respectable 2.6 goals per game last season, that number was inflated by a few strong performances. Lack of consistent scoring was a theme throughout the year, as the Sun Devils managed two goals or less in 13 of their 26 games and were shut out four times. Assuming Walker returns to form in 2021-22, he should be able to help fix Arizona State’s scoring woes and revitalize a power play that converted on only 16.7% of its opportunities last season.
Despite leading the Sun Devils in points per game average last year, Walker’s total output of four goals in 16 games seems entirely too low for one of the best pure goal scorers in college hockey. Walker has reached the 20-goal plateau in each of his last two fully healthy campaigns, and although he will be playing with a new center due to the departure of James Sanchez, Walker has every chance to hit that mark again. Having already compiled an impressive list of individual accolades, his sights are now firmly set on helping the Sun Devils win in the postseason, and he knows better than anyone that he will need to lead the charge.