Behind the rituals and superstitions of ASU men's hockey

Sun Devil hockey players share their quirky and traditional preparation methods

From quirky pregame rituals to post-game recoveries, members of the ASU men's hockey team have established their own unique traditions.

Head coach Greg Powers, a former goaltender, said he has had countless rituals from his playing days.

“As a goalie, I was one of the weird goalies,” Powers said. “I had to have each strap of my pad exactly tied the same way every game (and) every practice. I had to be ready 'x' amount of minutes before we took the ice to mentally prepare and have all my gear on and visualize what I was going to do.”

A lot of rituals in hockey are shrouded in mystery – why have them at all? Powers said the superstitious aspect of rituals are based on each individual. 

“They’re really nobody else’s and (are) for the people that do them and go through them," Powers said. "That’s what’s unique about them. They’re tied to the individual. Many hockey players that have them just keep them to themselves and go through them on their own.”

Sophomore forward Brett Gruber said he puts in a good deal of preparation before a game and that one of his pregame rituals involves his own superstitions.

“I come out probably 10 minutes before we go on the ice for warmups and I like to visualize and go through all the situations I’ll be in,” Gruber said. “I think that helps me really prepare for the game.”

Gruber was introduced to pregame preparation in high school, when playing competitive hockey became much more serious. 

“My dad and my coaches would always teach me to make sure you prepare mentally and get ready for the game and do all the little things because that will help you in the game,” Gruber said. 

So far this year, freshman forward Johnny Walker has nine goals for ASU, scoring his most recent goal in a 4-3 loss to Boston University.

Walker considers himself superstitious, and like some of his teammates, he has had pregame rituals for years.

“(For) My undergarments, I get dressed left to right, and my gear, I get dressed right to left ... I’ve been doing that for the past 10 to 15 years,” Walker said. “You get in the rhythm of something, and once you’re used to the way it is and if it’s working, there’s absolutely no reason to change it."

Sophomore goaltender Joey Daccord said he thinks hockey players in general are superstitious and, for a time, he included himself among the superstitious players. But, he said he's dialed it down in recent years.

Daccord has been practicing variations of his pregame routine since his high school days. His basic pregame routine consists of stretching, participating in a tennis ball juggling exercise, playing soccer with teammates and a warmup before taking the ice.

“When I was younger, I used to be very superstitious and ritualistic, and now, I graduated to more of a routine,” Daccord said. “I like to go through my routine, but I don’t really get flustered if it goes out of order or I don’t have time to do something.” 

Rituals hold significance in hockey in both the pregame and postgame. Whether the team won or lost, preparation almost immediately begins for the next night or next week. 

While many hockey players have their own superstitions and rituals, their game prep also consists of more typical ways to get ready for games.

“We get our shifts sent out to us after every single game, so first thing I’ll do when I get home is watch my shifts,” Gruber said. “I’ll see what I did wrong and see what I did well, and then, especially if we’re in a series, I’ll see what tendencies (the opposing team) had, and I’ll try to exploit those next game.”

At the end of a series, Walker said he frequently stays at the rink for a longer period of time.

“If it’s a win, you’re enjoying the locker room time you got,” Walker said. “If it’s a loss, you just reflect on what you need to do and how you’re going to get ready for the next Friday.”

Sunday can be utilized as a recovery day from playing in back-to-back games and getting ready for the week ahead. For Gruber, routinely stretching and occasionally taking an ice bath helps to prepare his body for the next game. 

Rituals and recovery go hand-in-hand in the game of hockey, and the common theme is preparation. 

"It’s a really physical game and you have to do all the little things so your body’s feeling great playing in a game,” Gruber said. 

Reach the reporter at or follow @Michael_Baron96 on Twitter.

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