ASU men's hockey strives to improve its power play

The Sun Devils are using their bye week to focus on their power play

A power play opportunity in hockey can work multiple ways. There’s the classic 5-on-4, the 4-on-3 and the two-man advantage 5-on-3. 

ASU men’s hockey is looking to improve its power play during the bye week before welcoming No. 19 Penn State to the desert next Friday, Nov. 17. According to uscho.com's statistics page, the Sun Devil power play is 5-for-44, equaling an 11.36 conversion percentage.

“It’s developing,” ASU head coach Greg Powers said. “It’s so crucial to win the special teams battle. I think the good thing is right now, our penalty kill is looking really good. Once the power play can get to that level, you’re going to start seeing us win some games." 

ASU’s power play ranks 54th among the NCAA Division I men’s hockey schools. There are a total of 60 programs fielding D-I men’s hockey nationwide.

“The key with any power play is to stay positive and stick with it … and not let it affect you negatively,” Powers said. “Sometimes, a good power play isn’t scoring a goal. It’s keeping pressure on a team and grinding them down.

The Sun Devil power play has also featured freshmen and there has been a bit of an adjustment period to acclimate the newcomers to what coach Powers and his staff want to do on the man advantage.

“The key as a program is to develop your program to where you have some continuity year after year on a power play,” Powers said. “We’re not there yet because we’re only in our second full season.” 

ASU’s current record stands at 2-6-2, with the most recent win coming on Nov. 3, when they defeated Alabama-Huntsville 3-2.

One of those two power-play goals from the Alabama-Huntsville series came courtesy of junior defenseman Jakob Stridsberg, who scored on the man advantage in the first period by blasting a puck from just inside the offensive zone. 

“We play a play on that 4-on-3 there that we usually do,” Stridsberg said. “(It) doesn’t really matter who shoots it. I saw I had an opening and just shot it.” 

Stridsberg said he thought the team started off well, but then got off track by thinking too much.

“Coach (Powers) says, ‘Always shoot the puck,’” Stridsberg said. “We still have some things we need to figure out, and that’s something we need to improve here.”

Stridsberg said ASU needs more traffic in front of the goal as well as more shots on net.

“Like we saw in the last couple games here, we’ve had a lot of movement, and we haven’t had that previously, and that’s something that definitely could be better,” Stridsberg said.

Sophomore forward Brett Gruber said the power play is being simplified, making it easier on the players.

“I think the coaching staff has done a good job of designing it so that we can just be players and not worry about where we are or where we have to be,” Gruber said. “We have a lot of freedom. I think we’re improving and I think we’ll be good next weekend.” 

Gruber mentioned that his role on the power play has evolved as the season has progressed. He says the power play has been modified and he is now around the net more. 

“I think we’re just trying to get more shots and trying to get pucks and bodies to the net, which gives us a better chance to score power play goals,” Gruber said.

Power plays can be frustrating at times, but Gruber said it’s all about maintaining a positive attitude. 

“We’ve got to have each other, and if some guy makes a mistake, you’re not just all over him making him feel bad,” Gruber said. “You’re supporting him and giving him positive feedback. We just try and hold each other to a standard where we’re not just so negative, because then it’s just a snowball effect.” 

Powers echoed Gruber’s take on the positive energy and said it’s on everyone. 

“When guys come back after a power play and it doesn’t go well, you have to pick them back up and make sure they’re focused on their next shift, and when guys come back after a great power play, they need to know they did a great job,” Powers said. 

ASU is off until next Friday, Nov. 17 when the Sun Devils will battle No. 19 Penn State in a two-game series at Gila River Arena. Face-off is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. MST. 



Reach the reporter at michael.baron@asu.edu or follow @Michael_Baron96 on Twitter.

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