Alex Hicks provides experience and growth for ASU men's hockey

The Sun Devil coach will be inducted into the ECHL Hall of Fame in 2019

ASU men's hockey assistant coach Alex Hicks was inducted into the ECHL Hockey Hall of Fame earlier in November.  

This is the latest accomplishment in a decorated professional hockey career for Hicks, which included playing alongside legends such as Jaromir Jagr, Mario Lemieux, Teemu Selanne and Paul Kariya.

However, for Hicks, these hockey icons are just a few guys that he had the pleasure of calling teammates during his 14-year professional hockey career. 

"Sometimes, in the moment, you really didn't believe it was happening," said Hicks of his NHL teammates. "You learn pretty quick to just stop star-gazing and get after it. I was fortunate to play with a lot of great players ... With Jagr and Lemieux, and Pavel Bure, a lot of great guys."

But before his NHL career playing for four different teams, Hicks made a name for himself in the ECHL as a forward for the Toledo Storm.

During his two years in the league with the Storm, Hicks registered 140 points and won two championships. Fittingly, the induction luncheon to honor his accomplishments will take place back in the city where he had a stellar beginning to his professional career. 

"It's ironic that it's back in Toledo," Hicks said. "We enjoyed a lot of success. We won two championships when I was there, so I was fortunate to be a part of a great organization. To go back this many years later, and to be honored and be a part of that city and community again, it will be great."

Toledo isn't the only community that Hicks has left an impact on, though. In a long career, the hockey mind made stops in New York, Florida, Anaheim, and Las Vegas, just to name a few places. 

Hicks even ended his professional career playing overseas in Germany, a community that he still keeps tabs with.

In 2002, Hicks established the Alex Hicks Initiative, which helps ill and underprivileged children receive gifts and aid in the city of Cologne, Germany. 

Hicks played for the Cologne Sharks of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga for the final five seasons of his hockey career, and although he now resides in the Phoenix area, the community thousands of miles away still holds a place close to home.

"I told myself once I ever stayed in one spot for where I was established, I was going to do something with kids," Hicks said of his charitable pursuits. "I knew that I wanted to help kids that couldn't go see games, or kids that were sick. 

"I had learned from people in the NHL that were in the same city for a long time, they always had these charities. I always wanted to do it, and I guess the most special thing is that it's continuing to thrive and it's continuing to do a lot of things I got started. That makes me happy."

As for his time at ASU, Hicks established roots in Arizona when his father, Wayne, ended his 20-year hockey career with the Phoenix Roadrunners in 1974. Hicks' father was a Stanley Cup Champion with the Chicago Blackhawks in 1961.

After ending his professional career, Hicks moved back to Arizona and began coaching for the Jr. Sun Devils Program in the DYHA. At the same time, and playing at the same rink within Oceanside Ice Arena, ASU head coach Greg Powers was coaching the ASU club hockey team. 

The two hockey minds got to know each other, and they are now coaching at the NCAA level as the No. 18 team in the nation.

"He's the first guy I hired," Powers said. "I didn't play pro hockey. I didn't play in the NHL, so the first thing I had to do in building our program, because we want to send kids on to the next level, is hire somebody that understands what it takes to get to the highest level and knows exactly what it takes on a daily basis to get there."

ASU junior forward and captain Tyler Busch labeled Hicks as an "old-school" coach, noting he isn't afraid to let players know when they make a mistake, but he is also there for a pat on the back when the team does something well. 

"I think he is probably a pretty big part of why I came here (to ASU)," Busch said. "He played at the highest level of hockey, so you can learn a lot from him...He brings a lot of energy every day, so I think the guys kind of feed off of him."

A hockey journeyman, an ECHL Hall of Famer and now an assistant coach on a ranked NCAA program, Hicks certainly has a standout resume, and his impact on various hockey communities along the way has not gone unnoticed.

"There is no better story than Alex Hicks," Powers said. "He played Division III hockey at Wisconsin Eau Claire, grinded it out in the East Coast League for a couple years, and moved up to the International League, and found himself in the NHL for a good, sustained amount of time ... Nothing was given to that guy. He earned everything he got."


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

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