No. 1 ASU hockey will put its undefeated record on the line when it matches up against No. 18 Colorado State and the University of Colorado this weekend.
ASU is coming off of victories over Delaware and NAU last weekend. The Sun Devils are 13-0-0 and have outscored opponents by an eye-popping 83-14 margin. Their 6.4 goals per game offensively and 1.1 goals allowed per game in defense are both the best in the ACHA.
Part of the reason for the offensive outburst is the front line of junior Liam Norris and seniors Kale Dolinski and Danny McAuliffe.
ASU coach Greg Powers called them “the best line in the country” last week, and said he stands by that statement.
“All three complement each other,” Powers said. “It doesn’t work as a twosome. It only works when all three are playing together.”
The trio are the top three-point scorers on the team. Dolinski’s 29 points lead the ACHA, as do his 19 assists. Norris’s 15 assists is third in the ACHA. Meanwhile, McAuliffe is tied for third on the team in assists behind only Dolinski and Norris and his nine goals trail only Dolinski’s 10.
Dolinski, Norris, McAuliffe and the rest of the Sun Devils will defend their undefeated record with three WCHL conference games this weekend.
First up for ASU on the weekend is the CSU Rams (3-8-0 ACHA).
Despite its 3-8 ACHA record, CSU has played one of the toughest schedules in the country. The Rams have lost one-goal games against ranked teams Ohio and Davenport, as well as also losing to ranked Stony Brook and defending ACHA champion Minot State.
Powers said he is impressed with what CSU has done with such a rough schedule, especially considering this is CSU’s first season in Division I.
“I definitely admire what they’re doing,” Powers said. “If you let them hang around and let them believe that they will (win), they can probably beat anyone on any given night.”
CSU will need its best players to step up to beat ASU. CSU freshman forward Collin Abitz has a point per game in CSU’s first 10, and junior goalie Alex Steidler has allowed 3.32 goals per game.
Friday and Saturday brings the CU Buffaloes (1-4-0) to Tempe. The Buffaloes have struggled so far as they do not have even one point-per-game player, and their leading goalie has allowed a whopping 4.47 goals per game. Like their in-state rival, the Buffaloes are in their first season playing ACHA Division I.
Powers said he was displeased with the team’s effort Saturday against NAU and said that this week in practice was about getting refocused.
“It was a good night to show up and play our worst game of the year, because we got away with it,” Powers said on playing the Division II Ice Jacks.
He said if his team plays CSU like it did NAU, the Sun Devils may see their first loss of the season.
The tilt against the Rams is Thursday at 8:00 p.m. and CU comes to town Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. All games are at Oceanside Ice Arena in Tempe.
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