NEWARK, Del.– The ASU hockey regular season is finished, with only the national tournament left to play.
With a 34-2-0 record, 2013-14 was the best season in program history. It included a 24-game winning streak to start the year, a win over a No. 1 team at home, a Cactus Cup victory and a Western Collegiate Hockey League title in the first year of its existence. The team spent most of the season ranked No. 1 and enters the national tournament with the top seed.
Every player who put on skates had a role in the team’s success, but certain players deserve to be recognized for their outstanding seasons.
MVP: Senior forward Kale Dolinski
What else can be said about Dolinski that hasn’t already been said? His 71 points and 52 points led the ACHA, and he did it only 33 games, less than the second-place player in both categories. He already won the WCHL MVP and will garner strong consideration for ACHA Player of the Year as well.
A part of Dolinski’s game that makes ASU fans happy is how much he tortured rival UA. He has an eye-popping 55 points in 24 career games against the Wildcats dating back to his days at Minot State, including four goals and three assists in a 12-3 rout in Tucson on Dec. 7.
It’s a shame that Dolinski’s illustrious ACHA career will come to an end after the national tournament. He amassed an incredible 253 points in four seasons, and won the ACHA’s Rookie of the Year award in 2011 at Minot State. He transferred to ASU and became an all-time great for the Sun Devils. He’ll finish his Sun Devil career with the team MVP award, and could win the ACHA equivalent as well.
Honorable mentions: Senior forward Colin Hekle, senior forward Danny McAuliffe
Defensive Player of the Year: Sophomore defenseman Brett Blomgren
The changes between Blomgren last season and this season are fascinating. Last year as a freshman he toiled behind seniors taking a majority of the minutes in the top-four defensive pairings. This year he paired with freshman Drew Newmeyer and they quickly became ASU’s best pairing. Blomgren in particular has become the Sun Devils’ best lockdown blue-liner.
He rarely if ever got beat: ASU coach Greg Powers said he can count on one hand the amount of mistakes Blomgren made all season, and he couldn’t say that about many other players. He played as well in his own zone as well as anyone, using his imposing 6-foot-2-inch, 190-pound frame to get in the way of pucks and opposing forwards. He didn’t score a goal this year, but he provided 11 assists (a career-high) and his ability to prevent goals is a big reason why ASU had the best defense in the nation.
Honorable mentions: Sophomore defenseman Jordan Young, Newmeyer
Rookie of the Year: Freshman goaltender Robert Levin
ASU had a stronger rookie class for the 2013-14 season than it ever had, and the crown jewel is Levin. He came to the Sun Devils and all he did was turn in the best season between the pipes in school history. His 1.12 goals against average and .956 save percentage both led the ACHA, and his six shutouts tied for the league lead.
Levin came in with strong competition in the form of last year’s starter, senior Joe D’Elia, who has a national championship ring from 2011 with Davenport. Levin was good enough to get the nod in ASU’s biggest games of the year, including Nov. 7 against then-No. 1 Minot State. and is also expected to start all four games in the national tournament. His season-high for goals allowed in one game: two.
It’s scary to think what Levin will be able to do with three more years of eligibility. He was one of three unanimous selections to the WCHL all-league first team (along with teammate Dolinski), should be a lock for goalie on the ACHA all-rookie team, and has a very good chance of winning ACHA Rookie of the Year as well.
Honorable mentions: Freshman forward Ryan Ostertag, freshman forward Sean Murphy
Non-Canadian MVP: Senior forward Danny McAuliffe
Nine ASU players came from north of the border, including players like Dolinski and Hekle. Among those who were born in the United States, McAuliffe was the best ASU had. He wore an assistant-captain letter on his chest and was named captain of the American World University Games team.
Not to say McAuliffe wouldn’t have competed for any sort of MVP award. He was second on the team with 39 points, tied for second with 20 goals and was fifth with 19 assists. His finest hour was Nov. 9 against Williston State, when he snapped a personal five-game goalless streak with a pair of them, including the game-winner in overtime to extend ASU’s winning streak to 19 games. He also had the game-winning goal on Feb. 6 against Colorado, a game which clinched the inaugural Western Collegiate Hockey League title.
Honorable mentions: Senior forward Brian McGinty, Murphy
Scrapper Award: Senior forward Troy Scott
Scott won this award last year, and he did nothing to suggest he didn’t deserve it again. He leaves everything on the ice, and turned in the best season of his ASU career this year. His eight goals were a career-high and his 18 points tied his sophomore season for a career-high.
Scott’s hard work paid off on Jan. 31 at home against UA when in the feel-good moment of the year, he scored his first-career hat trick. His parents were in attendance for the game and he was as excited as a kid on Christmas morning when talking about it after the game.
Honorable mentions: Senior forward David Jantzie, freshman forward Patrick Yudez
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