It might have been thought that facing top competition would slow down the No. 2 Sun Devils.
All they did last weekend was manhandle No. 7 Illinois, outscoring the Illini 14-1 in the two-game set. ASU (7-0-0) has now outscored its opponents 58-4.
Now ASU is set for its biggest challenge of the season when it embarks on a road trip to the Sooner state for a game with No. 3 Oklahoma and two with No. 11 Central Oklahoma.
Oklahoma (5-0-1) has not lost lost in regulation, losing only in a shootout to No. 5 Adrian College. The Sooners have been nearly as good as ASU in preventing goals, allowing only seven in their six games.
Goals will be hard to come by on Thursday. Oklahoma senior goaltender Nick Holmes has turned in two shutouts and a 1.25 goals allowed average. ASU’s two main goalies have combined for a .968 save percentage this season.
The other Oklahoma team will be no pushover, either.
Central Oklahoma (9-4-0) has been dominant at home, going 7-2-0 and outscoring the opposition 38-8. The Bronchos feature a powerful sophomore duo up front in forwards Rylan Duley and Riley Spraggs. The pair has combined for 27 goals in 13 games. The next highest goal scorer has four.
Obviously, the key for ASU will be shutting down Duley and Spraggs, but stopping their teammates from feeding them the puck will be equally difficult. Four Central Oklahoma players have at least 10 assists, and senior forward Seth Cory leads the ACHA with 16.
The storyline to watch, both this weekend and the rest of the year, is the other-worldly dominance of ASU freshman goaltender Robert Levin.
He recorded his third straight shutout Friday in Illinois, and dating back to the second game of the season on Sept. 21, has not allowed a goal in his last 233:21 minutes of play. He is also second in the ACHA with a .980 save percentage.
Levin entered the season competing with incumbent goalie senior Joe D’Elia for the starting spot. If Levin continues to block shots with video game numbers, coach Greg Powers will have a tough time removing Levin from between the pipes.
Offensively, senior forward Kale Dolinski is pulling away from his teammates in scoring. He leads the team with seven goals, 11 assists and 18 points, and leads the ACHA in points per game. Dolinski’s entire line has been dominant, as he combines with senior Danny McAuliffe and junior Liam Norris for 45 points in six games.
ASU plays Oklahoma on Thursday, then Central Oklahoma on Friday and Saturday. ASU returns to Tempe on Oct. 24 for a two-game matchup with No. 8 Delaware.
Reach the reporter at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @J15Emerson