Tough road test lies ahead for ASU women's hockey

ASU will play four games in three days this weekend in Colorado

The ASU women’s hockey team will play three of their next four games against opponents ranked in the top 15 teams of the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA).

While this task might seem daunting, ASU head coach Lindsey Ellis knows that this weekend is a chance to make a statement as a second year program.

“I think it will definitely say something about our program,” Ellis said. “If we are able to pull a few wins out, I think that we can definitely get in the top 15 (in the ACHA).”

Over the last five weeks, ASU has received votes to be in the top 15 of the ACHA. As of right now, they are on the outside looking in, but they can surely ascend the national ranks if they are able to pull off wins against some of the country’s most elite programs.

This weekend, ASU will play four games in three days as a part of a Western Women’s Collegiate Hockey League (WWCHL) showcase tournament in Boulder, Colorado. 

The Sun Devils will take on the University of Minnesota, Lindenwood-Belleville, Midland University and Grand Canyon University.

ASU’s first game of the tournament will be against the University of Minnesota — a team that is currently ranked seventh in the ACHA, and won the WWCHL championship last season.

“Minnesota is definitely a quick team,” Ellis said. “They are very skilled team, and they are one of the top teams in the ACHA … we are really going to have to be able to step up our game, and to be able to play them for our first game of the weekend and to be able to have fresh legs is important for us.”

ASU senior forward and captain Amber Galles knows what is at stake this weekend. Galles grew up about an hour away from the University of Minnesota, and knows that ASU’s ability to keep pressure on the Golden Gophers will be pivotal.

“They have always been a big threat,” Galles said of Minnesota. “I think we really need to get on them before they make those passes since the puck does travel faster than anyone can skate – we need to be on them so they can’t make those passes."

Galles has tallied a point in every game this season for ASU, and the senior leader will certainly look to continue that trend this weekend.

“It’s definitely in my mind,” Galles said of the point streak. “I need to get shots on net every chance I get and be there for everybody."

On Saturday, ASU will play two games in one day. The ability to avoid fatigue and keep fresh legs out on the ice will be critical for the Sun Devils' success.

"I am trying to prepare my legs," ASU sophomore goaltender Jordan Nash-Boulden said. "It's going to be four games in three days ... I will just have some Ibuprofen on hand."

Lindenwood-Belleville is currently the No. 4 team in the ACHA Division I standings, and Midland is No. 14. ASU was 0-4 against the two opponents in the program’s first year, but Ellis knows what to expect this time around. 

“We have played them before, and they are a very big, strong team with a very deep roster,” Ellis said of Lindenwood-Belleville. “We are going to have to adapt to their play and be able to step up and put pressure on them.”

As for the rigorous schedule ahead, the Sun Devils will definitely be ready for the quick turnaround.

“I think if we fuel our bodies right, stay hydrated and eat the right foods, we should be able to be fine with the four games since we are conditioned,” Galles said. 

ASU will conclude the weekend’s festivities by facing a familiar foe: Grand Canyon University. ASU tied GCU in their first game of the season, and the Sun Devils followed that performance by defeating the Lopes 4-1 to pick up their first win of the 2017-18 season.

The tournament is ASU’s first road trip of the year, and the team will trek 15 hours by bus to Boulder for the games. 

"Everybody is really excited about it because it's going to be fun," Galles said. "We will get to know each other more, and it will be good for the chemistry on the ice."

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