The No. 1 ASU club hockey team just escaped last weekend clinging to its top spot.
The Sun Devils survived a number of close calls that included three overtimes, two of which ended in a shootout. It is unclear whether they will still be No. 1 when the updated rankings are released Friday, Jan. 19.
The Sun Devils’ ranking will be put to the test this weekend when they welcome No. 5 Oklahoma (15-8-4 ACHA) Thursday and No. 17 Central Oklahoma (11-11 ACHA) for a two-game series on Friday and Saturday.
“Right now, I don’t even care (about the rankings),” coach Greg Powers said. “Right now, it’s not our focus.”
Sun Devils are focusing on their biggest challenge this semester.
ASU defeated both Oklahoma schools in decisive fashion on the road when they last met in November. The Sun Devils shut out Central Oklahoma 4-0 and beat Oklahoma 6-1 in back-to-back games.
However that was when the team was on fire, winning 18 games in a row. It has cooled off since then.
They do boast a 5-2 record since the start of the new semester, but that includes three overtime victories that could have just as easily turned into losses.
Lately, there has been one player who steps up for the Sun Devils in every game.
On Thursday, Jan. 10, junior goaltender Joeseph D’Elia blocked all eight shootout rounds and only allowed one goal on Friday, Jan. 11.
On Saturday, Jan. 12, junior forwards Danny McAuliffe and Brian McGinty each recorded two goals.
This weekend, Powers says the player that needs to rise to the challenge is freshman defender Jordan Young.
“He’s got to step up,” Powers said. “He’s got to get back to the Jordan Young that he was when he first got to ASU. He was playing with a lot of swagger, and I want to see that swagger come back, because we need it.”
Injuries take a toll on every team throughout the long season, and ASU is no exception.
Sophomore forward Faiz Khan and senior forward Dan Styrna have both been plagued by injury and are unlikely to skate this weekend. The Sun Devils will also play this weekend without their top-scorer, sophomore forward Kale Dolinski, who is inactive with a lower body injury.
“We’re even more banged up against Oklahoma than we were last weekend,” Powers said. “No matter who we throw out on the ice, we expect to win.”
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