ASU hockey's senior class leaving more than just their legacy behind

The four seniors will forever be known as pioneers in the Sun Devil hockey program

The No. 10 ASU men’s hockey team will play its final two home games of the 2019-20 season this weekend against Alaska Anchorage. Not only will it serve as the final two home games of the year, but Saturday’s game will be the team’s annual senior night to honor the program’s four seniors.

The thought of playing his last game at Oceanside Ice Arena has not even registered with senior defenseman Brinson Pasichnuk, one of the several members of the team’s first class to come in as freshmen and graduate from the program.

“I don’t know if that has even sank in yet,” Pasichnuk said. “Three years prior to this you know it’s going to happen one day … but you never really grasp how emotional it’s going to be until that night actually happens.”

Pasichnuk is joined alongside his brother, forward Steenn, and forwards Brett Gruber and Tyler Busch in playing their final games in front of a crowd that saw them struggle from the program’s inception.

Senior defenseman Brinson Pasichnuk (39) sits on the bench during practice on Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020, at Oceanside Ice Arena in Tempe, Arizona.

“The first couple of years were hard,” Brinson Pasichnuk said. “Showing up to the rink when we were not winning that much, it’s not that fun. But, (my freshman class) came here for a reason, and we all came from winning cultures. We knew what it took to build a winning culture, and that’s a big reason why we came here.”

Busch has also credited the rise of the program to his teammates over the past four years and how big of an effect that has had on his life.

“It’s meant a lot to me," Busch said. "Coming here, I didn’t really know what to expect. (I) can’t say enough about all the people that have been a part of this program for the past four years and built it and helped it get to where it is today.”

In just a couple of seasons, Pasichnuk and his fellow teammates saw the team transition from being a 10-19-3 team that sat at the bottom of the NCAA in the 2016-17 standings, to a program that was named a consensus top 10 just three seasons later.

“It speaks volumes to how hard our players have worked to get us to where we are,” head coach Greg Powers said. “Every one of these kids, especially the seniors, came here when we were literally nothing. We were just a figment of everybody’s imagination, almost an urban legend.”

According to Powers, the impact the senior class has imprinted on the Sun Devil hockey program is more than just a bunch of wins and goals.

“They’ve been hugely impactful on the ice for us, but off the ice is where these four guys have really made the biggest impact,” Powers said. “Building our culture, setting the standards for how guys act when they step into our room, how they act in the community and how they treat each other both here and away from the arena.”

The culture is perhaps symbolized by the most recognizable aspect of ASU: the pitchfork. To Brinson Pasichnuk, having the opportunity to represent ASU has meant the world to him.

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Senior season!

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“I don’t even know how to put it into words,” Brinson Pasichnuk said. “Being able to come in here and having a hockey program that nobody has ever been able to wear this pitchfork on the ice before, it’s really cool knowing that you’re one of the founding fathers of this program.

"You’ve given your heart and soul to this program, you sweat, you bled for this program."

For Brinson, coming to ASU has given him more than just hockey experience. 

"This place has given me so much; so many brothers, incredible memories, making the tournament last year, hopefully going to the Frozen Four this year, found my wife here," Brinson Pasichnuk said. "This place just changed my life completely and I’m forever grateful for it.”

This senior class may have only four games left in its regular season, but, as Powers mentioned, the influence that they have had on the Sun Devil hockey program will be remembered for years to come.

“These guys went through some tough times the first two years,” Powers said. “It was hard and they stuck through it, they stuck with it, they never stopped believing, and they wouldn’t take no for an answer … they can look back and know that they were a pioneer here, that they set the standard.” 

Reach the reporter at and follow @averyklatsky on Twitter. 

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