ASU hockey anticipates only scheduled home series of 2020-21 season

The Sun Devils will host the US National Team Development Program Thursday and Friday at Oceanside Ice Arena

For the first time this season and the first time since Feb. 15 of last year, the ASU men's hockey team has a home game on its schedule.

The Sun Devils will host the U18 U.S. National Team Development Program Thursday and Friday, marking the first games ASU has played at Oceanside Ice Arena in nearly a full year.

"I am so excited for it," said head coach Greg Powers. "I know the guys are, too. There is energy; there's a lot of energy and a new life in getting to go through a home-week routine."

ASU announced the home matchup with the team ahead of its most recent series against Minnesota, in which it was swept in 10-0 and 10-2 losses.

"We are at home for once, it's a different feel to have a game and practices at home and be able to go to our apartments or houses and not the hotel that we've been staying at every time," said junior defenseman Jarrod Gourley. "It's refreshing to do that. It's an opportunity for us to take another step."

ASU heads into the series with a 5-13-2 record and is riding a four-game losing streak. The Sun Devils are 1-7 in their last eight games but see this week's series as a chance to regain their confidence before heading out on the final road trip of the season.

"It should be pretty good for us to hopefully get our confidence back and build us back up going back onto our next road trip," said freshman forward Matthew Kopperud. "After coming back from Minnesota and having a rough couple games there, hopefully (we will get our) feet under us again and play two good games against USNTDP and go out and finish (the season) strong."

The Sun Devils will be without Powers behind the bench, who announced Tuesday that his wife and two children have tested positive for COVID-19. Powers has not contracted the virus but remains in quarantine.

"Everybody in my household, unfortunately, has tested positive except for me," Powers said. "Both children are completely asymptomatic and feel great; my wife has extremely mild symptoms. Everybody is fine ... it's frustrating obviously, because I've continued to test negative but I have to do what we all have to do when we are contact-traced and stay away from everybody."

Powers has continued to coach virtually while the team has continued practicing since returning from its most recent road trip.

The development team has a 22-6 record so far in the 2020-21 season playing against a combination of NCAA Division I, NCAA Division III, United States Hockey League and North American Hockey League teams.

"Every kid we have had from that program has made an impact," Powers said. "It's a hockey factory, it's like hockey Disneyland. When you are on that team, it's the best 18-year-olds in the country, and some of them are the best 18-year-olds in the world."

The series against ASU will be USNTDP's fourth and fifth games against Division I college programs. It defeated the Air Force Academy 5-4 and 3-1 in mid-December and beat Bowling Green 5-1 in January.

In addition to playing the USNTDP, ASU will also get a chance to size up against two players who have committed to the program and will one day wear the pitchfork. Defenseman Ty Murchison and forward Matthew Romer will suit up for the development team in the series. 

"I'm sure for him it's such a unique situation to be put in," Gourley said of Murchison, who has signed his National Letter of Intent. "It's very cool that he knows he's coming here and can see what we are all about." 

Murchison has 10 points through 28 games so far this season.

Romer has not signed his NLI but verbally committed to the program on November 5, 2018, via Instagram.

ASU kicks off February play against the USNTDP on Thursday at 7 p.m. MST at Oceanside Ice Arena.


Reach the reporter at aklatsky@asu.edu and follow @averyklatsky on Twitter. 

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