Season Preview: ASU women's hockey is ready to take off in program's third year

The Sun Devils have a plethora of new talent looking to make an impact right away

At this time last year, the ASU women’s hockey team was looking sparse. Today, the team has its first full roster since its inception.

Read more: ASU women's hockey gears up for second season

The Sun Devils took the ice last season on opening night with three defensemen, nine forwards and one goaltender. Compared to the likes of other programs that were sometimes holding 20-25 players on a roster, the ice seemed a little tilted.

However, as the team departs on its third full season as an American Collegiate Hockey Association program, the numbers have started to even out. 

This year’s roster includes six defensemen, 11 forwards and three goaltenders, marking the first full roster that the team has had in its three-year history.

“There were certain things we couldn’t do last year because we simply didn’t have enough people on the ice,” ASU head coach Lindsey Ellis said. “Just through practice and team bonding, the overall culture has completely flipped with positive, hard-working players. We are really excited for that to continue and grow this season.”

Through mass recruiting efforts and prospect camps, the Sun Devils added11 new players to this year’s battalion.

There are 11 freshmen on the roster, and the team has players from eight different states. ASU’s roster also includes freshman forward Ashlyn Sunderman, who hails from British Columbia. 

Some of the returners from last year include junior goaltender Jordan Nash-Boulden, senior defenseman KC McGinley and sophomore forward Catherine Jones, to name a few.

Nash-Boulden was the lone goaltender for ASU last year, which often created long weekends for a netminder who grew accustomed to playing in back-to-back games. 

This year however, Nash-Boulden will have some friends behind her with freshmen goaltenders Macy Eide and Landry Phelps, who will look to make an immediate impact and help to relieve some stress between the pipes.

“They are awesome,” Nash-Boulden of Eide and Phelps said. “It has definitely been easier on me fatigue-wise ... I think it has been great, and some teams tend to struggle a little bit with fighting over playing time (between goalies). I don’t think we have any of that ... We just build each other up and encourage one another to work hard.”

As for other notable returners, Jones set a freshman record last year with 14 points in 24 games

McGinley was a leader on and off the ice, as she was a captain on last year’s squad, and she was a pleasant surprise for the team as she returned to play this year, despite being listed as a senior last season.

Although McGinley was listed as a senior, she still has classes left to graduate, and due to a new ACHA rule that was implemented over the summer, the veteran blue-liner was granted eligibility to continue playing this season. 

Together, the class full of returners will look to develop a young hockey team that is garnering chemistry.

“Everybody kind of has the same motivation to want to be here (at practice) every morning,” Jones said. “Last year, it was so hard sometimes in practice having to skate (with fatigue). Drills (this season) are so much smoother because you are ready and you are focused.”

Ellis noted that she has been pleased with her freshmen class, and she has been particularly impressed with freshman forwards Danielle Dupont, Katharine Jones and Avery Chmelovsky.

She said she expects the trio to continue to create scoring chances and opportunities for ASU’s offense as the season progresses.

As for other preseason notes, junior Alyssa Ayers will suit up as a full-time defenseman after tallying 11 points as a forward last season. 

Ayers played stints in both the offensive and defensive zones last year, but she elected to fully convert to defense prior to this season.

The Sun Devils also added to their coaching staff by bringing on assistant coaches Mariah Trupp and Amber Galles

With so many additions and changes, the excitement around the rink is at an all-time high for the women’s team. 

ASU will drop the puck for its first game of the season against Grand Canyon University on Friday, Sep. 28 at 7:30 p.m. local time.

“There are certain things we couldn’t do last year because we simply didn’t have enough people on the ice,” Ellis said. “Preparation is a little bit different this year. I would say it’s a lot harder this year. Our standards are a lot higher than they have ever been.”


Reach the reporter at atbell1@asu.edu or follow @AndrewBell7 on Twitter.

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