Championship on ice: ASU hockey wins first national title

Video by Justin Emerson | Sports Reporter

NEWARK, Del.– Four years ago, Greg Powers took over as head coach of ASU hockey. His vision was to win the national title.

Tuesday night that vision came to life. ASU beat Robert Morris 3-1 and won the program’s first national championship.

“So many emotions are going through my mind right now, like utter happiness,” ASU senior captain Colin Hekle said. “I love everybody in that room and I couldn’t imagine it with any other group of guys.”

 

 

The 2013-14 Sun Devils were the first team  Powers put together. The current seniors were in his first recruiting class. That class skated off the ice Tuesday night for the last time with the pitchfork on their chests.

And they did it on top.

“There’s no senior class that ASU will ever have – as long as I’m here – that deserves to go out on top more than this one,” ASU coach Greg Powers said. “They are the builders of our program, they were the kids that came here when we weren’t established, and they came here when all of this was just a vision. Those are the kids that made that vision a reality tonight.”

And while the celebration belonged to the seniors, the game belonged to a freshman.

Forward Ryan Ostertag scored the first two goals of the game, both of which were assisted by a senior: forward Kale Dolinski.

Ostertag picked up a rebound on his first goal and put it in the open net, but the highlight reel should be on his second. It was the perfect combination of a lucky bounce and putting yourself in the right position to capitalize.

Ostertag entered the zone just past the halfway point of the second period. He fired a shot that missed wide and clanked off the glass behind the net. As luck would have it, the puck bounced right back to the advancing Ostertag. It went right to the tape on his stick, and he hurled a shot over the Robert Morris junior goalie Anthony Petrak’s shoulder.

He wasn’t ready to talk about himself, though.

“I didn’t score those goals, the eight seniors did,” Ostertag said. “They taught me everything I know, they deserve all the credit, I’m not taking any. … They built our team and our team has revolved around them and everything we’ve done right now, every moment, every second has been built up by them.”

It was only fitting then, that it was senior forward Troy Scott that hit the empty-netter at the end of the game to clinch the national title.

“It was very fitting for Troy’s career,” Powers said. “He’s a model kid for us, someone that we’ve been able to build the program around, like the other seven (seniors).”

The ASU hockey team celebrates after winning its first national title at Fred Rust Ice Arena in Newark, Del. (Photo by Justin Emerson)

The ASU hockey team celebrates after winning its first national title at Fred Rust Ice Arena in Newark, Del. (Photo by Justin Emerson)

With eight minutes left in the game, the players that did not start left the bleachers and headed for the tunnel. As the clock expired, everyone found out why. When the clock hit zero, the players burst from the locker room in full uniform to celebrate with their team.

In addition to the team winning the title, senior forward David Jantzie and freshman defenseman Drew Newmeyer were announced as players on the all-tournament first team. Freshman goaltender Robert Levin, who allowed only four goals in four games, was named tournament MVP.

“It’s a nice cherry on top, but at the end of the day, only thing that matters is winning a national championship,” Levin said. “Anything else is just icing on the cake.”

ASU hockey came into the season with the No. 2 ranking. The Sun Devils beat then-No. 1 Minot State, won the Cactus Cup against UA and won the Western Collegiate Hockey League. The only box left to check was the national title.

They did that Tuesday night.

As for Powers’ first senior class – Hekle, Dolinski, Jantzie, Scott, Danny McAuliffe, Brian McGinty, Brett Prechel and Joe D’Elia – they finished their ASU careers as national champions.

 

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