For the ASU Division I club hockey team, it's safe to say this weekend is an important one. Oceanside Arena in Tempe will play host to another top 10 matchup this weekend between No. 4 ASU and the No. 6 Ohio Bobcats.
The Sun Devils are using the two games against Ohio as a benchmark for where they stand in the national playoffs.
“I want to get these two wins,” forward sophomore captain Colin Hekle said. “I want to get the ranking higher, I want to be at two.”
Currently ASU trails behind only Penn State, Delaware, and Lindenwood with a record of 15-2-2. Hekle said it is beneficial for the team to play higher ranked team like Ohio, who sits two spots behind ASU at 12-4.
“If you play the best, you're going to get better,” he said.
The teams are familiar with one another, as they split their first series against each other last November at Ohio.
“I expect Ohio, outside of Lindenwood, to be the best team we've played so far,” said head coach Greg Powers. “They're very calculated in how they go about things; they're very structured.”
Powers said one of the main focuses when facing the Bobcats is to work on the defensive zone, which he said has been sloppy of late. The team will be spending time in the film room in preparation for what Powers said is a structured Ohio offense.
Senior goalie Mark Schacker said it's important for him to control rebounds in order to help out the defensemen playing in front of him.
“Personally, I just want to be consistent both games and make the saves that I should be making.” he said.
On the offensive side, Hekle said spreading the puck around would be a key to success as the season progresses.
“I need to make sure I'm not trying to do it all by myself, and get my teammates involved,” he said.
Ohio will be playing interstate rival UA Thursday night before traveling up to Phoenix to take on the Sun Devils Friday and Saturday. In an interview on Ohiobobcatshockey.com, Ohio head coach Dan Morris said his team will rely on their veteran leaders in preparation for ASU.
“Obviously Arizona State is a talented team,” Morris said. “They've got a lot of good players; they execute well.”
ASU isn't taking Ohio lightly either. After scoring 13 goals in two games last weekend, the Bobcats are clearly a stiff test for ASU.
“It's good to practice against teams like that to prepare for nationals,” Schacker said. “If we want to go far, we're going to be playing them again, so having a tough schedule only helps us.”
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Video by Nick Licalzi and Ryan Hess