Ice hockey in 100 degree weather in the middle of August might seem peculiar to the average hockey fan. However, one group of women in Tempe are proving otherwise.
The Arizona State women’s hockey team is a Division I club hockey team competing in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA). Last year was their inaugural season, where they were coached by former Miami University-Ohio standout and Arizona native, Lindsey Ellis.
Ellis was an ACHA Division I national champion with the Redhawks. She now aspires to grow the ASU program this season.
“Our goals this year are to be .500 in our games by the end of the year, and then receive a bid to the WWCHL playoffs,” Ellis said.
Ellis is joined alongside goaltender/assistant coach Kaley Marino and new assistant coach Katie McGovern. Both coaches are Arizona natives, and McGovern played at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, where she was a three-time WCHA scholar athlete.
“I want to help grow Arizona hockey, and it’s so cool to have the opportunity to play at the collegiate level in Arizona,” McGovern said. “I never had that opportunity, so it’s awesome for the girls, and I just wanted to be a part of it.”
As for the 2017-2018 roster for the Sun Devils, they added four new players, and they are led by captains senior defenseman KC McGinley, junior forward Taylor England, senior forward Dannika Borges and senior forward Amber Galles.
“It’s really comforting to know that our captains have stepped up the whole year, and that they continue to wear those letters,” Ellis said.
The four new players include sophomore forward Alyssa Ayers, freshman forward Catherine Jones, freshman forward Aubrey Beskid and freshman forward Jessica Ferigno. McGinley said she is excited by how her new teammates are soaking everything in.
“They are like sponges, which is amazing and what we need,” McGinley said. “They are just so excited to be out there ... that’s all we need."
While there is a core group of leaders for the Sun Devils, one thing that will be a challenge for the team is their depth.
There are 15 players on the roster this season, and there are nine forwards, three defensemen and two goalies. To put that into perspective, ASU's men’s hockey team features 27 players with 16 forwards, eight defensemen, and three goalies.
Despite the deficit in numbers, Ellis broke down how they plan on using their lines this season.
“We are going to have D-pairs, and we are probably going to be doing two centers and three-wing pairs this year just because of our numbers,” Ellis said. “But we do have a lot more depth than last year, so that is very exciting for us.”
As for goaltending, sophomore Jordan Nash-Boulden will be the one and only woman between the pipes for the Sun Devils throughout the first part of the season. Sophomore Brianna Hersom was one of the two goalies last year for ASU, but she suffered a torn ACL at the end of last season.
“She is recovering right now, so Jordan is our number one goalie for right now until Bri (Brianna) gets back and comfortable on the ice again,” Ellis said. “She had her surgery not long ago, so hopefully she will be back on the ice by November.”
Above all, ASU’s women’s hockey team will look to grow as a program in an era that could possibly transcend women’s hockey in the Valley.
McGinley captured the chemistry that each player has with one another going into this season.
“It is so much fun to be back with the girls,” McGinley said. “We all just love each other and get each other, and we know how everyone plays.”
ASU’s first game is at 7:30 p.m. against Grand Canyon University on September 22 at Oceanside Arena.