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Maniscalco and Pasichnuk display chemistry as a top pairing for ASU men's hockey

The junior and the freshman defense pairing have played well together


Freshman Brinson Pasichnuk drives the puck during a game against Ohio State on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018 in Tempe, Arizona.

ASU junior defenseman Brinson Pasichnuk has been through a lot with the Sun Devil hockey program during these last three years.

Pasichnuk led ASU in points last year with 26 as an offensive-minded defenseman. While he has been a staple and a captain within the program, he has yet to play in a winning season during his time in Tempe.

"Brinson is the ultimate teammate," said ASU head coach Greg Powers at the beginning of the season. "He's our best player and he was voted best teammate by his peers last year."

With a top recruiting class that was landed by Powers this season, the narrative surrounding three losing seasons might change for Pasichnuk and ASU's defense.

Pasichnuk has gained some possible benefits of playing alongside his newest freshman counterpart: Josh Maniscalco.

Through six games played, Pasichnuk and Maniscalco have appeared as the top pairing in every game, and ASU's six defensemen have not been shuffled once this season.

Last year Pasichnuk primarily was paired with sophomore Jacob Wilson, who is now playing alongside senior Jakob Stridsberg, solidifying a core defense group that has thus far produced a lot of strong play in a young hockey season. 

The dynamic is different from last year, and for Maniscalco, the idea of playing alongside Pasichnuk has been an interesting one with two talented offensive defensemen who can be prone to jumping on to the rush.

"I feel like we both play an offensive style," Maniscalco said. "A lot of people think it doesn't work out (with offensive defensemen), but I think the opposite. Brinson and I, we think the same way. We know where we are going to be...The chemistry is definitely there."

Maniscalco is a product of the Team USA National Development program. He played in the 2016 CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game, and he was 10th in scoring among all United States Hockey League defensemen in 2017-18 with the Dubuque Fighting Saints.

Rising through the youth ranks en route to ASU, the young defenseman spanned different states, stopping in Minnesota, Michigan and Iowa before arriving in Tempe. 

"It's always tough coming to a big university, but this is what I wanted," said Maniscalco of the decision to attend ASU. "I kind of just jumped right in, but it's nice coming here in the summer and kind of getting your bearings, and you know where everything is at."

Growing up in the small town of Perkiomenville, Pa., Maniscalco spent nearly all of his time playing hockey away from his home state during his youth and teenage years.

While his family might not have been able to see many games nearby, this will change on ASU's upcoming road trip when the Sun Devils play just three hours down the road from Perkiomenville at Penn State.

Maniscalco's brother and his brother's girlfriend both go to Penn State, and ASU can expect a whole grove of maroon and gold when they arrive to play in Happy Valley. 

"I am pretty sure they bought eight or 10 tickets already for all my cousins," said Maniscalco of his brother and his brother's girlfriend. "I should probably have 30 or 40 ASU fans there ...They are excited. The leagues I played in, we didn't come back toward Pennsylvania very much so I know they are all excited to get out and see me play somewhere close."

With Maniscalco officially settling into his new home alongside a veteran player, the duo will only look to improve. Even Pasichnuk foresees the tandem working together through the rest of his career with the program.

"He is a freshman, but he doesn't play like a freshman. He is going to be such a special player," Pasichnuk said. "Having him as my defense partner, it has helped me so much. It has helped me improve my game ... It's just cool having a defense partner that you truly love to play with and that is a very special player ... I would love to stay with him this year and next year."

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