ASU hockey came into the season pretty sure of its top two lines.
Freshman Sean Murphy would join senior captain Colin Hekle and junior Faiz Khan on the first line. Junior Liam Norris would center the other, flanked by seniors Kale Dolinski and Danny McAuliffe.
The third line has been taken over by freshmen Chris Burkemper, Zach Holstrom and Patrick Yudez, who have run with it and haven’t looked back.
“We’ve been together since probably day one, and we’re just clicking big time,” Burkemper said.
All three were recruited by coach Greg Powers this offseason. The three have been working together since camp and have become a scary line to face for opposing defenses as they have combined for 20 points in 14 games.
Powers said he was impressed by Burkemper’s and Yudez’s physical play and aggressiveness. Holstrom did not play Saturday.
“Those two guys are huge additions to our lineup,” he said. “A lot of guys played well, but I have to say, I was most impressed with those two.”
The rapport developing between the three was obvious Friday against UA. They broke free from the Wildcat defense and scored on a perfect tic-tac-toe sequence on a three-on-one break. The quick puck movement flustered the lone Wildcat defender, and Holstrom was able to score on an empty net when the goalie was expecting the shot from Burkemper.
Burkemper leads the team in goals with five, and Holstrom is tied for third on the team with six assists. Burkemper said it’s a bit of a surreal feeling to be leading the team so far this season.
“Its a huge honor,” he said. “We have an awesome team this year, and to be at the top of the leaderboards in goals is unreal.”
Holstrom to sit out weekend
After taking an illegal check to the back in last Friday’s game against UA, Holstrom did not dress Saturday. Burkemper and Yudez skated with senior forward Brian McGinty on Saturday. They did not miss a beat. Burkemper scored two goals.
Powers said Holstrom will not play on the upcoming road trip, so he can continue his recovery. Holstrom is expected to return when the team travels to Oklahoma next weekend.
Senior Joe D’Elia and freshman Robert Levin continued to impress this week, making a good problem for Powers to have in determining who starts.
Powers said he does not know if it will continue to be a two-goalie system or if one will become the starter moving forward, and he mentioned that he wanted to give freshman Lucas Felbel some time.
“As long as we’re winning hockey games, that’s what I’m most concerned about,” Powers said. “Right now I feel like I can put any of the three in, and we can win on any given night.”
He said Felbel will not play this weekend, but that with nine more games this month, he hopes to see Felbel on the ice.
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