Oh, Canada: Club hockey players make huge move to ASU

Goaltender Joe D’Elia squats down in the butterfly position to block a shot against UA on Feb. 2. D’Elia came from Toronto and now anchors the ASU defense. (Photo by Molly J. Smith)

Goaltender Joe D’Elia squats down in the butterfly position to block a shot against UA on Feb. 2. D’Elia came from Toronto and now anchors the ASU defense. (Photo by Molly J. Smith)

Going off to college is tough for any student, but leaving your home country to play hockey and go to school is completely foreign to most.

A few of the Canadian Sun Devil hockey players shared their thoughts on why they chose ASU.

The reason why most the players came down from Canada is coach Greg Powers. He leads recruiting and put together the No. 2 ranked team in the ACHA. ASU will travel to Illinois in early March in search of the program’s first national championship.

Eleven players on the ASU hockey team were born north of the border. Among them is junior captain Colin Hekle.

Hekle came down from Winnipeg, Manitoba, in part because his family owns a winter home in Tempe.

“My parents had bought a house here probably two years before Powers even contacted me to play down here,” Hekle said. “My parents are retired, so they’re down here a lot.”

Hekle was wowed not only with Powers and the hockey program, but also with the school itself.

“The school, if I could describe it in one word, is beautiful,” Hekle said. “The campus, the atmosphere, the weather, it’s really hard to beat coming from such a cold place.”

Not all of them are fortunate enough to have their family so close. Junior forward Kale Dolinski comes from Regina, Saskatchewan, and his family is still there. He said his mom and sister are there and can’t help but think of them while he is down here playing hockey.

Junior forward Kale Dolinski flashes down the ice looking for a pass from his teammate against UA on Feb. 2. Dolinski is one of many players recruited from Canada to play for the club hockey team. (Photo by Molly J. Smith)

Junior forward Kale Dolinski flashes down the ice looking for a pass from his teammate against UA on Feb. 2. Dolinski is one of many players recruited from Canada to play for the club hockey team. (Photo by Molly J. Smith)

“I’m a bit of a mama’s boy, so I call her four or five times a day,” Dolinski said. “When I played junior hockey, I was like an hour and a half from home, and I cried every single night for a month straight. After that it was nothing.”

Dolinski was playing for Minot State, another ACHA team, when he came down to Tempe to play against ASU.

Then Powers convinced him to become a Sun Devil. He fell in love with the program so much that instead of graduating this year, he plans to return to play one more season.

Kory Chisholm, born in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan, managed to use ASU to combine his professional career with his love of hockey.

Kory Chisholm skates the length of the ice during an ASU club hockey rush against UA on Feb. 2. Some Canadian players, like Chisholm, traveled great lengths to play at ASU. (Photo by Molly J. Smith)

Kory Chisholm skates the length of the ice during an ASU club hockey rush against UA on Feb. 2. Some Canadian players, like Chisholm, traveled great lengths to play at ASU. (Photo by Molly J. Smith)

He too was scouted by Powers and looked into the school’s credentials, not just on the ice but in the classroom as well. He enrolled in ASU and is a freshman this year.

“They have a very reputable hockey program here,” Chisholm said. “Doing some research on the school, they have a very good engineering program, so putting two and two together was something I really wanted to come here for.”

Toronto, Ontario, native and starting goaltender Joe D’Elia has anchored the ASU defense since he has arrived.

Coming from eastern Canada, the junior travelled farther to become a Sun Devil than any of his Canadian teammates.

“First I started off at Davenport in the ACHA,” D’Elia said. “Things didn’t work out there and I talked to Greg and I transferred to Arizona State. I moved away when I was 21. It was tough, but it’s manageable for sure.”

All four of them play huge roles for the ASU hockey program.

Hekle leads the team with 54 points and 30 assists.

Dolinski is second with 53 points. He leads the team and is No. 5 in the ACHA with 30 goals.

D’Elia has amassed a 22-4 ACHA record in net and averages 2.42 goals allowed per game.

Chisholm is third in his freshman class in points and has a bright future at ASU. All are expected to return next season.

If they had the chance to make their college decision again, would they still come to ASU?

“Absolutely,” D’Elia said.

“Oh, for sure,” Dolinski said. “I love it here.”

“Yeah, in a heartbeat, for sure,” Chisholm said.

“Absolutely,” Hekle said. “I wouldn’t change a thing about it. I haven’t regretted a second I’ve been here.”

 

Reach the reporter atjustin.emerson@asu.edu