Sun Devil club putting hockey on the map

01-20-09 Hockey
Junior Matthew Mackey looks for a pass during the game against Towson at the Altell Ice Den on Saturday. ASU beat Towson 9-4. (Damien Maloney/The State Press)
Published On:
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
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The days of the “white-out” on Jefferson Street in downtown Phoenix seem like a distant memory.

The throngs of hockey fans that once donned their white T-shirts and packed into the building formerly known as America West Arena, have dwindled to a mere handful that now pepper the seats of Jobing.com Arena in Glendale.

If the playoffs started today, the Phoenix Coyotes would be the sixth seed in the Western Conference.

Aside from the handful diehards that actually show up, would anyone be there to witness such an event?

A sport that once caused a buzz around the Valley, now barely makes a peep.

“Every day I walk around with my ASU hockey backpack on and [other students] say, ‘Oh, ASU has a hockey team?’” said senior forward and assistant captain Kyle Barry.

The Sun Devil hockey team is not part of the NCAA; it’s a club team that plays in the American Collegiate Hockey Association.

The Sun Devils (13-10-0) are making a run toward the postseason, and in the process are showing that hockey is alive and well in Arizona.

The journey is a daunting one for ASU, with a pair of two-game sets against No. 2 Lindenwood and No. 5 Oklahoma, and four games against Arizona left on their schedule.

A birth in the ACHA playoffs is determined by national rankings, which are voted on by the league’s coaches.

The immortal sports cliché “one game at a time” is how sophomore Pat Lind said his team would approach the remaining games.

The Sun Devils took a necessary step toward their postseason aspirations with a two-game sweep over Towson University on Friday and Saturday.

Friday’s game came down to a shootout, where sophomore forward Derek Bolls scored his first goal of the season at the most opportune time to give ASU a 4-3 win.

ASU sophomore goaltender David Tanner got the win is his first start of the season.

TU was no match for the Sun Devils on Saturday, as ASU routed the Tigers 9-4.

Junior forward Matt Mackey led the way with two goals and an assist, bringing his team-leading assist total to 16 on the season.

Adrian College is next in line for the Sun Devils, and they are no slouch coming off a win against No. 14 Michigan-Dearborn.

Staying disciplined has been the focus for ASU and will play a big role in the outcome of Friday’s game.

“We are going to try to limit the penalties,” Barry said. “If we do that, I feel that that we can skate five-on-five with anyone in the country.”

Face off is scheduled for 7:35 p.m. on Friday at Alltel Ice Den in Scottsdale.

Reach the reporter at emschim@asu.edu.