The ASU hockey team wrapped up its regular season with a two-game sweep of UA in Tucson, but it wasn’t the usual cast of characters that did it.
Senior forwards Colin Hekle, Brian McGinty and Kale Dolinski all did not play Saturday, nor did junior forwards Faiz Khan and Liam Norris, and freshmen forwards Ryan Ostertag and Michael Cummings.
ASU won 4-2 Friday, then 8-2 Saturday without its stars.
Coach Greg Powers said the weekend was a chance to see some of the younger players while keeping his starters healthy for the national tournament which starts in two weeks.
Powers mentioned one player specifically who, in his opinion, played very well.
“(Freshman forward) Tommy Cooney’s future here is incredibly bright,” Powers said. “He’s explosive, he’s probably one of our top two or three skaters and he’s a smart hockey player.”
It speaks to the depth on the hockey team that Cooney has only managed to play in 12 games this season.
Cooney played alongside two players who have played all season on the Division II Pac-8 Elite team, sophomore forward Coda Engbar and senior forward Justin Havriliak.
Havriliak served as the captain of the Division II team and played on the same line as Engbar. Havriliak had a goal and two assists on the weekend and Engbar had two goals. Both were playing in their first career Division I games.
Powers said it served as a sort of tryout for Engbar. Havriliak, a senior, will not have the chance to play Division I next year.
“(Engbar) wants to play (Division I), and I think he proved that he can,” Powers said.
Powers said he wanted to see players like Cooney, Engbar and Havriliak, but he also accomplished his goal of keeping his players healthy for the tournament.
“It was simple; it was to get the young guys in and get them good, solid experience down in Tucson,” Powers said. “That was the biggest reason, but we are 1000 percent healthy going into nationals. We don’t have an injury. That is the first time we could ever say that.”
Last year, Hekle and Dolinski were both banged up at the end of the season.
“I didn’t want to risk that Saturday, because I knew that our young guys could come out and produce us a win, and they did,” Powers said. “It was two-fold the reason, and all the way around it was a success.”
ASU completed its regular season 34-2, the best finish in program history. Its next game is Friday, March 7, at the national tournament against the winner of Rhode Island and Lindenwood.
Reach the reporter at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @J15Emerson