With the departure of Dan Styrna on the front line last season, ASU hockey coach Greg Powers needs to find a replacement on the line that includes senior captain Colin Hekle and junior Faiz Khan.
Enter freshman Sean Murphy.
“Murphy’s been consistently dynamic,” Powers said. “He was, on paper, the highest-touted kid we brought in.”
Murphy scored two goals in the maroon and gold scrimmage on Sept. 5, and he is expected to join Hekle and Khan on the team’s front line.
Styrna scored 40 points in 39 games last season, so Murphy has big shoes to fill, something for which he said he is excited. He also said his linemates have simplified the transition for him.
“I feel honored to play with them. They’re a great two players,” Murphy said. “It makes it easy for me to come in and play. I don’t really have to do too much. … They give me a lot of space on the ice, and they make good plays.”
Powers said he likes the chemistry developing between the trio.
“They look pretty darn good,” he said. “(Hekle) and Faiz, we all know they play very well together, and (Murphy) clearly complements them very well.”
As good as that line can or will be, Powers said it might not even be his best line.
“Right now my first line I have listed is Norris, McAuliffe and Dolinski,” he said.
Seniors Kale Dolinski and Danny McAuliffe, as well as junior Liam Norris formed last year’s second line, and it may be the first line in the upcoming season.
Powers said they could be the first line this year because Dolinski was National Player of the Year finalist last year, and all three played on the same line together last season.
Norris only played 19 games because of an injury last year, but still managed 15 assists alongside Dolinski and McAuliffe, who ranked No. 1 and No. 4 on the team in goals, respectively.
Sophomore defenseman and newly named assistant captain Jordan Young will anchor the starting defense, along with freshman Alex Temby.
Goalie still unknown for next week’s opener
With about a week until the first puck drop of the season, Powers is still undecided as to who will be in net.
Returning senior Joe D’Elia led the team to a Final Four berth at last year’s national tournament but faces stiff competition from freshmen Robert Levin and Lucas Felbel. Powers said D’Elia’s incumbency is certainly a factor.
“We know what Joe can do. We know we can win with Joe in net,” Powers said. “(But) all three are capable of getting the job done.”
D’Elia was the starting goalie last season and amassed a 26-5 record. He also averaged 2.38 goals allowed per game, had a .91 save percentage and tended three shutouts.
Levin was a highly regarded recruit, and Felbel walked onto the team.
ASU hockey begins Sept. 20 against San Diego State University at Oceanside Ice Arena in Tempe.
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