NEWARK, Del.– Imagine a football team that played all its games on a 100-yard field, only to get to the playoffs and see that it is 120. That’s what is happening to ASU hockey.
The ice surface for the national tournament is international-sized, so it is 196 feet long by 95 feet wide, which is wider than the ice ASU is accustomed to at Oceanside Ice Arena.
Some teams would be thrown off by a different playing surface, but ASU is not among them.
ASU is a team built on speed and passing as opposed to physicality. The extra surface with which play means fast forwards like freshmen Ryan Ostertag and Sean Murphy, junior Liam Norris as well as seniors Kale Dolinski, Colin Hekle and Danny McAuliffe, among others, can show off their skill.
“Having so much ice to skate, it makes such a big difference,” Ostertag said. “It does nothing but benefit our lines. I couldn’t be any more happy playing there.”
Ostertag should be the player who benefits the most. He lines with Norris and Dolinski, two players who love to pass the puck. Dolinski led the ACHA with 52 assists and Norris has 84 points in three seasons at ASU, with 75 percent of them being helpers. Ostertag called them the two best passers in the league.
“They make it so easy for me it’s unbelievable,” Ostertag said. “All I have to do is get open and get ready in the slot and they feed me.”
ASU played its first game on the big ice Friday, beating Rhode Island 5-0. Ostertag had a goal and an assist.
Probably prompted by Ostertag calling him the best passer in the league, Norris responded by calling Ostertag the fastest player in the league.
“It’s fun playing with him,” Norris said. “I hit him on the wing and he just takes off. It makes a big difference.
Norris had two assists Friday.
The large playing surface also helps ASU’s puck-moving defensemen by giving them more room to quarterback plays from the point. Sophomore blue-liner Jordan Young has spent his career dishing out passes from the blue line on smaller ice and now gets to expand his game further as the ice sheet expands.
“It gives me an extra second with the puck, and our guys are so good at getting open, it allows me to get it to them a little easier,” Young said. “It fits our game so well.”
Young scored a goal and recorded an assist Friday.
ASU will get its second game on the big ice Sunday at 4 p.m. Arizona time.
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