The No. 2 ASU club hockey team will travel to Tucson this weekend to play No. 20 UA.
ASU has won the last 30 head-to-head matchups, but that is not the only intrigue to look forward to this weekend rivalry weekend.
The Wildcats (15-20-1 ACHA) will be playing their final two games of the season. They were the final bubble team for the ACHA national championship tournament, and lost out on the No. 18 seed to Rutgers.
The Sun Devils (30-6-1) secured the No. 2 seed in the tournament, securing a first-round bye. They will play the winner of Navy and Rutgers.
ASU coach Greg Powers said he had a vote in the national tournament coaches’ poll and he placed UA in the tournament.
UA coach Sean Hogan agreed that his team deserved to be there, but he nevertheless looks forward to ASU this weekend.
“We thought, in our mind, that our complete body of work was stronger than some of the teams behind us,” Hogan said. “We’re going to approach it like it is our national tournament. Any time ASU comes down here, for any sport really, it’s always a big draw, so it’ll be a lot of fun.”
ASU and UA last met Feb. 1 and Feb. 2 in Tempe, and the Sun Devils swept the two-game series.
“We don’t focus on those kind of numbers,” Hogan said. “We’ve prepared in a way that we think we can end it.”
Against UA this weekend, ASU will have the dual task of beating their rivals and making sure that everyone is prepared for nationals in early March.
Junior captain Colin Hekle and freshman Jordan Young will not dress to play this weekend.
Leading scorer junior Kale Dolinski, freshman Kory Chisholm, junior goaltender Joseph D’Elia and senior Darcy Charrois missed time last weekend and are all considered day-to-day and questionable for the UA series.
All are expected to return at full strength for nationals.
Despite the injuries, Powers expects no drop-off in his team’s success against UA.
“We want to extend the streak and we want to beat UA,” Powers said. “We’re going to put the best lineup together that we can and go down there and do everything we can to get two wins.”
At the end of the day the streak is obviously not the only thing that fuels the two Arizona universities.
“I hate them, that’s for sure,” said ASU senior defenseman Brian Parson after their Feb. 2 game.
It will be the final regular season for both games. ASU has already clinched the Cactus Cup, leading the season series 6-0.
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