Fourth line leads No. 1 ASU hockey into Colorado

When No. 1 ASU hockey heads to Colorado this weekend for a meeting with Colorado and Colorado State, it won’t be the usual suspects that are on a hot streak.

Senior forward Kale Dolinski leads the ACHA in assists and points, and senior captain Colin Hekle leads the team in goals, but it will be the fourth line of seniors Troy Scott and Dave Jantzie and freshman Michael Cummings that will be watched a little more closely than usual.

“They’ve been great,” coach Greg Powers said. “I think (Cummings) gives those two an added scoring threat. He gives them size and grit.”

 
download-022114
 

The trio combined for four of ASU’s six goals last weekend versus UA. Scott recorded his first career hat trick on Friday and Jantzie scored short-handed for the only goal on Saturday.

Jantzie said it was the placement in the fourth line that has led to the unit’s success.

“I think it’s being in the spot we are in the lineup,” Jantzie said. “It allows us to go out and work as hard as we can and not wear us out.”

ASU’s first game of the road trip will be Thursday in Boulder, Colo., a matchup with the Buffaloes (8-17-1) and a goalie who came close to handing ASU its first loss in November.

The last time the two teams met, the Sun Devils were introduced to freshman goaltender Alex Palumbo, who turned in a remarkable performance. In two games on Nov. 1 and 2, he allowed nine goals on a staggering 121 shots, including an incredible 68 saves in a losing effort on Nov. 2.

While nine goals don’t seem impressive, Palumbo had poor defense in front of him and was forced to make tough saves both nights. Those nine goals could have just as easily been many more.

Because ASU scored only once Saturday against UA, Powers said it’s up to his team to put more goals on the board at CU.

“We were obviously very challenged putting the puck in the net on Saturday against UA,” Powers said. “So hopefully we can overcome those woes against a really good goalie in Palumbo.”

Friday and Saturday the Sun Devils will head north to meet the Rams of CSU (10-21-1). ASU knocked off the Rams 6-2 on Halloween night in Tempe. Hekle had four points in that game, with a pair of goals and two assists.

The team had only lost one game prior to Saturday and came back with a win on Jan. 11 after dropping its first game of the season the previous night versus OU. Cummings said last weekend’s loss is still weighing on the mind of the team.

“We wanted to send (the seniors) out on top, never losing at home to UA,” he said. “It’s definitely going to sit in the back of our minds for awhile now, and we’re going to take it into Colorado and use that for an advantage.”

Additional weekend notes

– Powers said he expects to see players on the ice who haven’t gotten much playing time this year. Specifically, he mentioned freshmen forwards Zack Holstrom and Tom Cooney as well as sophomore forward Chris Blessing.

– Junior forward Liam Norris was out Saturday because of an undisclosed injury. He is expected to rejoin the team.

– Saturday was senior goaltender Joe D’Elia’s first loss of the season. Freshman Robert Levin took the other loss Jan. 10 versus Oklahoma.

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