Oceanside Ice Arena saw the rise of a hockey team that started as a club playing pickup to a D1, independent hockey program that made the NCAA tournament just three years later.
It wasn't all sunshine and rainbows for ASU throughout this season. The team had three losing streaks during the year consisting of three games or more.
In ASU's final season at Oceanside, there were ups and downs throughout the whole season, but the Sun Devils fought to the end and finished the 2021-22 season 17-17-1.
Reminiscing on Oceanside
"This is where we played our first division one game," said graduate student defenseman Jacob Wilson. "There are a lot of good memories. We wanted to shut this place down the right way, so we took it all in."
Despite ending the season with a sweep of Long Island University at home, ASU will finish this campaign outside of the group of 16 teams to make the NCAA tournament.
The team entered this season outside the top-25 and was never able to fully cement itself as an at-large bid contender. Even with the disappointment of being out of the dance, there is a lot to look forward to for this squad, especially for the 10 graduating players.
"We're going to miss all of them," said head coach Greg Powers. "They've all been so good to our program. They mean so much to everyone, and what we've done here."
Defense ranked toward the bottom of the NCAA, allowing 3.46 goals per game, which was 52nd out of 59 teams in the NCAA. ASU's power play defense wasn't much better, ranking 55th in the nation by killing only 72.4% of power plays.
Goaltending was questionable at times too. Junior goaltender Ben Kraws started 30 games on the year and ranked toward the bottom of NCAA goalkeepers with a save percentage of 90.8% and didn't post a single shutout in all 30 of his starts.
"He's (Kraws) a great kid and a great teammate," Powers said. "He is one of the hardest workers in practice every day. He is just steady. He is steady and confident and plays hard and aggressive."
With a suspect defense, offense needed to be top tier to win games. They didn't disappoint. ASU ranked 12th in scoring offense with 3.31 goals a game. They converted 22.9% of power plays into goals, the 15th highest in the nation.
"The power play was good for us all year," Powers said. "It's been one of our real bright spots all year and they have done a great job."
Despite having one of the better offenses in the country, their subpar defense won out, leading to a negative goal differential to finish the season.
Some players had stellar seasons for the Sun Devils in 2021 and 2022. However, sophomore forward Matthew Kopperud was the biggest standout. He was third in the NCAA in goals scored with 22 and 16th in points with 40 on the season.
Along with Kopperud, graduate transfer forward Colin Theisen was stellar in his first and final season in maroon and gold. Transferring from Notre Dame, he led the team with 42 points, collected 19 goals and 23 assists. He had two assists in the final game on Sunday to set a new program record in single-season points.
"It means a lot," Theisen said. "It's definitely an honor, and I couldn't do it without my teammates and Powers putting me in a great spot to work hard. I gave the effort and I knew it was going to come, and that's the way it went."
The Sun Devils also saw the emergence of freshman prodigy and Coyotes' draft pick Josh Doan, son of former NHL player Shane Doan. Josh Doan was third on the team in points with 37. His 37 points led all D1 freshmen in the NCAA.
With the departure of over a third of the roster now the 2021-22 season has finished, ASU hockey is going through a changing of the guard as they move to the Mountain America Community Iceplex for the 2022-23 season.
Powers has a good core of young players to build around in Doan, Kopperud and other freshmen like defenseman Ty Murchison, and the 11th ranked recruiting class of 2022 according to NeutralZone.
Oceanside's final dance may not have been the most successful season, but Sun Devil Hockey isn't looking at this season as a failure, but as an end to one era and the beginning of a new one.
Walker Smith is a sports editor in the digital department of the State Press. He has previously worked as a reporter on the sports desk and works for Blaze Radio and interned at Big Slate Media in broadcast productions.