Hockey sets high bar for new season

After graduating numerous top players, including three time All-American Joe Schweiger and All Star captain Pat Lind, many would think the ASU club hockey team was set for a fall in the standings.

Not coach Greg Powers.

“Our expectations are higher than they've ever been.  We're young, but this is not a rebuild league, it's a reload league,” said Powers at a team practice Tuesday morning.

The Sun Devils are coming off of a 27-8-4 season in which they finished number ten in the national rankings.  In the national tournament, the team was bounced by Oklahoma in the first round.

Despite losing Schweiger and Lind as well as six other graduating seniors, Powers has an optimistic outlook for the upcoming season, which kicks off Friday against NAU.

“We lost a lot of horses but we reloaded with even better horses,” Powers said, “and that's not a knock on those guys that we lost, but that's just a result of their efforts and a result of them really helping us build this program to where really good hockey players want to come here to play hockey.”

Captain Colin Hekle will lead the Sun Devils.  The sophomore forward finished last season with seventeen goals and 29 assists in 35 games.

As captain, Hekle has instituted team-building exercises to help integrate the thirteen new players.

“This year I just want to get everyone together on the same page,” he said.

One of their incoming players is ACHA Division I Rookie of the Year Dale Dolinski, a transfer from Minot State.  The sophomore forward put up 77 points in thirty games last season.

Powers said he believes Dolinski and the other twelve recruits will help the team improve on last year's results.

“The recruiting class was unbelievable,” Powers said.  “We labeled it as the best class we've ever had, and they haven't disappointed us so far.”

Between the pipes for the Sun Devils is senior goaltender Mark Schacker.  The four-year starter finished last season 19-9-1 with a 2.26 goals against average.  He also posted three season shutouts.

In preparation for the season, Schacker varied from his normal training routine.

“I figured this year I'd stay off the ice during the summer and then look forward to being back on the ice rather than burning myself out too early,” he said.

Schacker said the key to a win against the Ice Jacks this Friday is consistency and control.

“Their team's going to be throwing everything they have at us knowing that we're a big powerhouse now,” he said.

Offensively, Hekle said a fast face and playing physical from the start would favor the Sun Devils.

Powers said the team has high hopes for a championship this season, starting with NAU.

“The chemistry on this team is already better than it was at any point last year.  These guys are getting along great, the room's very healthy and we're just excited to go Friday,” he said.


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