No. 1 ASU hockey has unfinished business with UA in final regular season weekend

The seedings for the ACHA National Tournament were released Monday, and as expected, ASU claimed the No. 1 seed. But that doesn’t mean the season is over.

The Sun Devils still have a score to settle with UA, and they’ll have a chance Friday and Saturday in Tucson.

On ASU’s Senior Night in Tempe on Feb. 1, the Wildcats came in and won 2-1. The win snapped a 37-game losing streak UA had against the Sun Devils.

 
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“We’re going to play Friday’s game like it’s the national tournament,” ASU coach Greg Powers said. “We’re going to go in Friday very focused and look to win that game, and Saturday we’ll just kind of play it by ear.”

In regard to Saturday, Powers is referring to what happened last season.

Last year going into the final weekend of the regular season, also in Tucson against UA, seniors Kale Dolinski and Colin Hekle missed time because of injuries.

Powers said he doesn’t plan on using a fear of injury as a reason for keeping anyone out of action, at least for the first game.

Part of the desire to win comes from what happened Feb. 1.

“It’s still UA-ASU, and those games are still very important,” Powers said. “It always matters.”

Powers said that even though the team knows its seeding, he is happy the team has two games before the tournament. He said it needs to fine-tune certain aspects of its game.

UA also managed to claim one of the final spots in the tournament and was seeded 15th. The Wildcats will play No. 16 Illinois. It is possible that UA meets ASU in a semifinal game, or even the national championship game.

Freshman forward Ryan Ostertag said he isn’t worried about potential injuries such as the ones that plagued Hekle and Dolinski last season. He said he just wants to beat the Wildcats.

“I don’t think there’s any more will-to or want-to than there is right now to beat them,” he said. “They’re a good team and when you play them eight times a year, it’s bound to happen. It’s unfortunate the streak had to end, but hopefully, we’ll start a new streak here coming up this weekend.”

Additional weekend notes

– Dolinski has recorded nine points — one goal and eight assists — in his last three games.

– ASU’s No. 1 seed is the best in program history. The Sun Devils entered last year’s tournament as the No. 2.

– ASU will play the winner of Rhode Island and Lindenwood in the first round of the national tournament March 7. Lindenwood eliminated ASU last season.

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