ASU hockey announces captains, 2020-21 schedule plans and roster additions

The Sun Devils boast the No. 2 incoming recruiting class in the nation

The ASU men's hockey team discussed their preparation for the 2020-21 season, announced team captains, introduced their newest recruiting class and revealed next season's key matchups during a "Coffee with Coach" event via Zoom Friday afternoon.

Wilson, Maniscalco headline group of four team captains

Senior defenseman Jacob Wilson, junior defenseman Josh Maniscalco and senior forwards Dominic Garcia and Johnny Walker were named team captains by head coach Greg Powers for the 2020-21 season.

"From the day ASU became a Division I program, I wanted to come home and play here," Walker said. "Now, to wear a letter for such a great organization and lead this team along with these guys is such a privilege."

Maniscalco will be the lone junior of the group of captains and the only first-time captain in 2020-21.

"Being able to be a junior captain is very rare," Maniscalco said. "It is a huge honor and it makes me smile. To be able to be a part of the leadership group with these three other guys, to be able to put my words together with theirs, it should be fun."

Wilson and Maniscalco will both wear the 'C' on their chests as captains while Garcia and Walker will wear the 'A', serving as alternate captains. 

"Our job as captains is to create that championship culture," Wilson said. "We are here to win a national championship."

2020-21's key matchups, team is 'planning to play' next season

While ASU men's hockey did not release its entire schedule Friday, Powers did present key matchups for the 2020-21 season and stressed his intentions on planning to play next winter. 

"(Next year's schedule) is a really competitive schedule," Powers said. "We have a great field for the Desert Classic with Air Force rounding that out. We also go to a tournament in Milwaukee right before the Desert Classic with Wisconsin, Clarkson and UConn."

Headlining the Desert Classic will be Cornell, who ended last season as the highest-ranked team in the country, Nebraska Omaha and Air Force. 

"Its always fun for our guys to be able to play for a trophy," Powers said. "The last two times we've played for a trophy in either mid-season or pre-season tournaments, we won."

Key road matchups include Denver, Ohio State and Quinnipiac.

"We are developing a nice rivalry with Denver," Powers said. "With their proximity from a geographical standpoint and some of the social media banter that went back and forth last year. We had a big win against them and a tie against them at Gila River."

Clarkson and the University of Massachusetts Lowell are slated to travel to Oceanside Ice Arena to take on ASU.

"Both (Clarkson and UMass Lowell) are top 15 teams," Powers said. "Clarkson is a perennial top 10 team now."

Six of the 10 released opponents finished the 2019-20 season ranked in the top 20. 

Powers said the entire schedule has been set for the upcoming season, but decided not to release all of it Friday, saying, "Releasing it too early under these circumstances is probably a little irresponsible in case we have to go in a different direction." 

Those circumstances are due to the spread of the Novel Coronavirus, which forced all collegiate sports conferences to cancel all sporting events in mid-March. However, Powers emphasized that the Sun Devils plan to play hockey once the next school year begins.

"But certainly, the minute we can provide ice for our guys, we're going to do it," Powers said. "We are planning to play. Arizona State hockey is preparing and planning to play in 2020-21."

READ MORE: Pac-12 conference cancels all sports for 2019-20 academic school year

Sun Devils haul in second-best recruiting class

The Sun Devils will also be adding their most talented recruiting class to date, earning the second-best recruiting class in the country according to NeutralZone. Only eight-time national champion North Dakota's class ranks higher than ASU.

The Sun Devils' class of seven features five forwards, one defenseman, and one goaltender. 

"It is the first year that our staff feels like we are completely built in every way," Powers said. "Every position we have depth, we have guys that can do so many different things, and the options are going to be endless."

The class boasts two NHL draft selections in goaltender Cole Brady, a 2019 fifth-round selection by the New Jersey Devils who previously played for the Fargo Force of the United States Hockey League, andforward Ryan O'Reilly, a 2018 fourth-round selection by the Detroit Red Wings who previously played for the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL.

"(Cole is a) huge, imposing guy in net," Powers said. "Ryan's a big power forward, loves to score. He's a special talent and he can put the puck in the back of the net."

Three other transfers came over from the USHL, including forwards Matthew Kopperud from the Dubuque Fighting Saints, Michael Mancinelli from the Des Moines Buccaneers, and Benji Eckerle from the Tri-City Storm. 

"The USHL is the strongest (junior league)," assistant coach Alex Hicks said. "If you can play in that league, you can definitely come and play at our level."

Other transfers include forward Sean Dhooghe from Wisconsin and defenseman Carson Kosobud from the Penticton Vees of the British Columbia Hockey League.

Boston College transfer forward Chris Grando, who joined the program for the 2019-20 season but sat out due to transfer rules, will also be eligible to compete in 2020-21.


Reach the reporters at ancoil@asu.edu and aklatsky@asu.edu and follow @averyklatsky and @anc2018 on Twitter. 

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