Hockey off to best start in team history

What a start.

Through 19 games, the ASU club hockey team has pulled off a 15-2-2 record. This is the best start in team history and has led them to be ranked at No. 4 in the national ACHA rankings.

Coach Greg Powers said teams have trouble with the Sun Devils because they can't key in on one player, making them hard to prepare for.

“If we go out and work for 60 minutes I don't think anyone can beat us,” Powers said. “I think that's the nicest thing about our roster is that we're so balanced.”

So far this season, twelve different players have scored over double-digits. Three have over 20 points, led by assistant captain and junior forward Dan Styrna with 23.

“The whole team, as one unit, we're pretty close,” Styrna said.  “Even the new guys, everybody's welcomed them and we've had a consistent effort from everyone.”

Sophomore forward and captain Colin Hekle, who leads the team in goals with 15, agrees that the freshmen have been a big part of their strong record.

“Our freshman have been great this year,” Hekle said.  “They started out this year a little scared because I guess the guys are bigger but they're getting used to the pace of the game.”

Leading the way for the freshmen is forward Liam Norris with 14 points on the season, good for 10th on the team.  Powers said that while the freshmen have been huge contributors and continue to improve, the younger players on the team might have detracted from the overall record.

“We feel like we should have a better record than we do, but I think the youth caught up with us a bit,” he said.  “We've had some trouble finding real consistency, but we're close and hopefully we can find it before the break.”

Senior goaltender Mark Schacker said having a break can be beneficial for the team.  Schacker, who has compiled a 10-3-1 record with a 2.49 goals against average, said taking the summer off helped him improve his game.

“I've felt a lot better, I didn't feel as tired early in the season,” said Schacker.

For Schacker, the defense playing in front of him has been performing very well.  He said juniors Brian Parson and Ryan Clark have been the most consistent in helping him.

“Any rebounds that I've left out, they've been able to clear out of the way,” Schacker said.  “They're keeping shots to the outside making things a lot easier for me.”

Following a four-game, four-day road trip to Michigan, Styrna said the team is looking forward to the break.

“I think it will be good for the guys to give them that break and recharge our batteries for the rest of the season,” Styrna said.

The Sun Devils now head into the Thanksgiving break before hosting Ohio on Dec. 2.  Some players, like Hekle of Winnipeg, said they are excited to go home over the break.  Other players, however, will be enjoying the hospitality of their head coach.

“Guys that stay in town are always welcome; they shouldn't have to stay in their apartments and not eat anything on Thanksgiving,” Powers said.

Although he has no idea how many players will come over for dinner, Powers said they're all welcome to spend the holiday with him and his family.

“Just make sure you let me know soon, guys,” he said as the players skated off from practice.  “Because I gotta get a lot more food!”

Reach the reporter at lisa.bartoli@asu.edu

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