Make no mistake: 2012-13 was the ASU hockey team’s greatest season ever.
Numerous program firsts and milestones were achieved, and it finished two wins away from a national championship.
The Sun Devils finished with a 35-8-1 ACHA record. They went into the national tournament with the No. 2 seed and made it as far as the final four.
Not before this season had an ACHA team ever beaten an NCAA Division I team. ASU traveled to Penn State and beat the Nittany Lions 3-1 on Dec. 1.
ASU hockey achieved its first ever No. 1 ACHA ranking in November after starting 11-0. The team won 19 ACHA games before losing to Robert Morris on Dec. 8.
The season started on Sept. 20, almost three months earlier. ASU held the No. 1 spot until late January. It never dipped below No. 2 after that.
The team flirted with that No. 1 spot during a weekend series in early January. The Sun Devils played Liberty and Stony Brook University (twice) to three consecutive overtimes. They beat Liberty in a shootout on Jan. 10, Stony Brook in a shootout Jan. 11 and again in regular overtime on Jan. 12 in a very unconventional weekend.
The Sun Devils extended their winning streak over the rival UA Wildcats to 32 games. No current ASU hockey player has ever lost to UA. The streak nearly ended on Feb. 1 in Tempe, when UA had a 3-0 lead late in the second period before the Sun Devils rallied to tie game. ASU won in overtime.
The national tournament arrived on March 2 with the Sun Devils as the No. 2 seed, and they breezed through its opening game against Rutgers 8-2. Illinois posed a bigger challenge in the quarterfinals, but the Sun Devils won 3-1.
The semifinals was where the road ended for ASU. Lindenwood lost twice to the Sun Devils in the regular season but came out with 3-1 victory when it mattered most on March 5.
ASU finished an incredible season but still fell short of its final goal.
“Our goal is to win that last game,” ASU coach Greg Powers said.
The season had barely ended before Powers was already looking ahead to the next one. He sees great things coming for the 2013-14 campaign.
One thing Powers is very excited about is the recruiting class. While declining to go into specifics, he called it the strongest class in years. He will miss the graduating seniors but is excited about the new players the coaching staff has lured to Tempe.
Powers also spoke very highly of freshman defenseman Jordan Young. After an injury-plagued season, Powers believes that Young can be “the best defenseman in our league” in his sophomore season. Young played in only 29 games, less than 20 other players, but he still managed to put up the 10th-most points on the team.
ASU’s biggest need for next season is defensemen. While the program is graduating only two forwards, of whom only Dan Styrna played with regularity, defensemen Darcy Charrois, Ryan Clark and Brian Parson are leaving the blue line. The three combined for 69 points and defensive plays that won’t show up in a stat sheet.
This season proved to be a superb for Sun Devil hockey and its fans. But Powers isn’t satisfied. He has one thing in mind for 2013-14.
“No reason to sugarcoat it: It’s national championship or bust,” Powers said.
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