ASU men's hockey ranked No. 9 nationally in recruiting

The Sun Devils are returning one senior while welcoming eight freshmen to the Maroon and Gold

Collegiate hockey is continuing to grow in the Valley of the Sun. Entering its second year in NCAA Division I Men’s Hockey, ASU has been ranked by Neutral Zone with the No. 9 recruiting class in the nation for the 2017-18 season. 

“We knew we recruited some really good players,” assistant coach Alex Hicks said. “When I saw that compared to other universities around the country that our guys coming in were ranked basically higher than most or at the top level, it excited me knowing that we’re going to have a good chance to put a good team together.”

ASU was ranked ahead of Penn State, which came in tenth overall in the released rankings. 

“The one thing we like about the way our team is built right now is we’re going after older kids that develop for a few years playing junior hockey,” head coach Greg Powers said. “We’re comfortable with what we have in that class in terms of how exactly they’re going be able to help us on the ice. I think recruiting old has its advantages.”

Powers said recruiting on the NCAA level for ASU men’s hockey has made it easier on him because of new scholarships and resources, but the process itself is constantly ongoing.  

“Recruiting is cyclical,” Powers said. “We give (recruits) plenty of time to get educated on our program and touch it, feel it and see it, and then after that, it’s time to make a decision.” 

ASU ranked just behind the University of Michigan and Minnesota State, ranked No. 7 and No. 8, respectively. 

The University of North Dakota, the 2016 National Champion, had the No. 1 ranked class in the nation with Boston University at No. 2. UMass-Amherst, Minnesota and defending National Champion Denver rounded out the top five recruiting classes. 

“There’s big schools that have been around for 80 years that are right there with us,” redshirt junior forward Louie Rowe said. “That’s going to surprise everybody, but that’s our goal here is we’re going to surprise people every year until we’re No. 1.”

Where is ASU now?

Hicks said one of the most important parts of recruiting is relationships built in the past. 

“There’s a small separation of how well you would know that person,” Hicks said. “You go back to these places like Wisconsin or if I go back up to Canada, … I usually know somebody around that’s familiar with me and can help spread the word about Arizona State.”  

ASU’s roster for the upcoming hockey season only has two seniors, with eight freshman joining the squad. 

“We have a good core of kids we believe in and we believe are going to be the foundation for this program for the history that it exists,” Powers said. “The goal is to pick up where we left off and continue to improve on that every day.” 

Powers said leadership is the most important quality a hockey player has to have. 

“You want kids that are leaders and good citizens and great students and, most importantly, want to come here and literally be the tradition,” Powers said. “It takes a special kid to want to go start something and (go) through some growing pains with a growing program.”

Where does ASU still have to go?

Powers said the program at the NCAA level is off to a great start, but there is still work to be done. 

“Obviously, the next progression for our program is facility on campus and then conference affiliation,” Powers said. “Once those two things are addressed permanently, I think you’ll see even another uptick.” 

Powers said evolving in every aspect and finding the right type of athlete for the program are things the team needs to continue applying in the future.  

“That’s probably the hardest thing to find because you can’t see it on the ice for the most part,” Hicks said. “It’s something you really have to trust your instincts on.”  

Of other teams ranked inside the top ten, the Sun Devils will play four of them this season. UMass Amherst, Penn State and Boston University each visit Arizona for a two-game series in October, November and January, respectively. Meanwhile, ASU travels to Michigan to play the Wolverines in late February. 

“We want to be a top five program for the rest of ASU’s history,” Rowe said. “That’s lofty and that’s just how it going to be.”

Last season, Rowe was fifth on the team in scoring with seven goals and 10 assists. Rowe said he joined ASU Hockey because he was a competitor and he wanted a challenge. 

“I wanted to have the challenge of being a founder to a program,” Rowe said. “I wanted to come here and set an example for years to come.” 

The ASU men’s hockey team opens its season on Saturday, Sept. 30 when it hosts Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) at Oceanside Ice Arena in Tempe. Face-off is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. 

Reach the reporter at or follow @Michael_Baron96 on Twitter.

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