No. 1 ASU hockey set for rematch with No. 3 Liberty

Last week then-No. 4 Liberty and No. 1 ASU went to overtime, with the Sun Devils coming out on top 3-2. But ASU coach Greg Powers wasn’t pleased with the team’s performance.

Powers and the Sun Devils (26-1-0) will have a chance to redeem for what Powers called the sloppiest game of the year.

“We were just not executing,” Powers said. “I don’t think it was anything (Liberty) did. We just weren’t sharp.”

ASU travels to Liberty (23-4-1) for a two-game series Friday, Jan. 24 and Saturday, Jan. 25. The Flames lost in overtime to ASU last Thursday before going south and beating No. 13 UA twice in Tucson.

The last three meetings between the two schools were not decided in regulation. ASU won 4-3 in a shootout Jan. 10, 2013. In addition to the Sun Devils’ overtime win Jan. 16, they also met in 2011 in another shootout win for ASU.

Powers said Liberty has a tough barn in which to play, and the numbers back that up. The Flames are 14-2 at the LaHaye Ice Center and only allow 2.25 goals per game while scoring 4.75.

This weekend will see the return of sophomore defenseman Brett Blomgren for the Sun Devils, who missed the last three games with a hand injury. Blomgren watched last week’s game against the Flames and agreed it wasn’t ASU’s best effort.

“It looked sloppier,” Blomgren said. “I think we’re going to have a good week in practice. It’s going to be a completely different weekend.”

Blomgren is fully healthy and will return to his top defensive pairing with freshman Drew Newmeyer.

Despite going on the road to play a team that has always played ASU close, Powers said he has no worries about visiting the No. 4 team in the ACHA.

“The expectation is to go into Liberty and sweep, just as it is every time we go against anybody we play,” Powers said. “If we continue to focus on us and play to our abilities, nobody will beat us.”

Additional notes

– ASU has not scored first in its last three games after scoring first in all but one of its first 24.

– Powers said he expects his two goalies, senior Joe D’Elia and freshman Robert Levin, to each start one game of the two-game series.

– Senior forward Kale Dolinski has 55 points in 26 games. He is four points shy of last year’s total of 59, a mark he reached in 38 games.

– Puck drop is set for Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the LaHaye Ice Center in Lynchburg, Va.

Reach the reporter at justin.emerson@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @J15Emerson