No. 1 ASU hockey has seven games left this season, but only two are at home, and the Sun Devils (28-1-0) wouldn’t want to finish their home schedule any other way than a two-game clash with rival No. 14 UA (14-15-0).
“We always take UA very seriously,” ASU coach Greg Powers said. “They’re big games.”
It’s senior night on Saturday for ASU’s seven seniors, and captain Colin Hekle said he has mixed feelings about ending his ASU career.
“It’s bittersweet, just because I’m going to enjoy these games, but at the same time, I’m going to know (they’re) the last home games I’m going to play as a Sun Devil,” Hekle said.
But senior night isn’t the focal point of the weekend.
The big storyline surrounding the on-ice rivalry between the two Arizona schools is the outcome of the last 36 games. ASU has won them all, dating back to the 2009-10 season.
The Cactus Cup, established during the streak to the winner of the season series, has never resided in Tucson. ASU leads the series, 4-0, with four games to play.
“The goal is to always retain that, keep it as long as we can and we need to get one more win to seal it, keep it for another year,” Powers said.
Powers said, while impressive, getting to 37 and 38 in a row isn’t the main incentive for beating UA.
“It’s a big number,” Powers said. “Whether or not that number is one, two or 50, the goal is just not to lose to UA. … We treat our eight games against UA — I say it all the time — like it’s a separate season within our season.”
ASU senior forward Kale Dolinski said he discounts the streak.
“It’s a number,” Dolinski said. “I don’t look at it like 36 in a row, I just look at our standings. … I just look at them like must-win hockey games.”
But it does come back to the number. ASU has beaten UA 36 times in a row, an impressive number, and a number that Hekle said he has no question will continue to climb this weekend.
“Absolutely,” Hekle said. “No doubt about it.”
Puck drops at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Oceanside Ice Arena in Tempe.
Additional weekend notes:
— In his career, Dolinski has played his best games against UA. Dolinski has 51 points in 21 career games vs. the Wildcats, including 13 in four games this year. He had four goals and three assists on Dec. 7 in Tucson.
Dolinski diverted the attention away from himself when talking about his success.
“I don’t know know if I come up big. I just think that we have to take it to another level,” Dolinski said. “Our intensity has to be up, and we have to bury our opportunities.”
— ASU will be wearing its black jerseys for both games this weekend. They are the team’s designated road sweaters but will be wearing them at home for the first time.
— Freshman forward Alex Temby was removed from Friday’s game against Liberty with an apparent knee injury. Powers said he expects him to play against UA. Powers said there are no other injuries to report.
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