NEWARK, Del.– Every athlete wants to go out on top. Tuesday night, eight ASU hockey seniors will have that chance.
Tuesday night, ASU will play in the national championship game against Robert Morris. Win or lose, it will be the last game of the season and for some, the last game of their careers.
Forwards Colin Hekle, Kale Dolinski, Danny McAuliffe, Brian McGinty, David Jantzie, Troy Scott, defenseman Brett Prechel and goalie Joe D’Elia will put on the pitchfork sweater for the final time.
It is the most successful senior class ASU has ever had, and they can’t see a better way to finish their ASU career than playing in the national title game.
“I can’t think of a better way to go out,” Hekle said. “It’s going to be a win (Tuesday). I won’t let it happen any other way if it’s a loss. We’re going to win (Tuesday) no matter what.”
It’s a sentiment shared by the rest of his teammates. The current group of seniors have been to the national tournament every year they have been at ASU. However, this is their first time playing for the Murdoch Cup, the trophy given to the ACHA champion.
“It’s a long time coming,” Dolinski said. “I’d love to hoist that (Cup) over my shoulders, but it’s going to be a dogfight (Tuesday), and we’re looking forward to it.”
It may feel like this chance is a long time coming. ASU entered the tournament the last four years as no worse than the No. 8 seed. Yet the Sun Devils had only made it to the semifinals once and never to the finals.
Last season was the closest ASU had come. The team was the No. 2 seed, and saw top-seeded Adrian get eliminated in the quarterfinal round. ASU had the inside track at the Cup, but was upset by No. 9 Lindenwood in the final four.
Now the seniors have one more chance.
“I’ve had way to many opportunities that we’ve actually blown at nationals, so this year means a lot more than other years,” Jantzie said. “If we don’t do it, it kind of resonates with you after your playing days are over.”
Freshman forward Patrick Yudez said after the quarterfinal game against Minot State that getting to the national title game and making sure the seniors had an opportunity to end their careers with a win was very important.
“It means everything, we just want to do it for these guys,” Yudez said. “We’re a phenomenal team and these seniors are a huge reason why we’re so good. It’s great to back them up because they deserve to be on top.”
The puck is set to drop at 4 p.m. Arizona time for eight Sun Devils’ last game – and their first chance at a national title.
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