ASU hockey's presence in professional hockey grew last week after a record-setting six Sun Devils signed contracts to play professionally in the American Hockey League and the ECHL.
Graduate students Colin Theisen and Jacob Wilson will take their talents to the ranks of the AHL, while graduate students Johnny Walker, Tim Theocharidis, Jack Becker and Willie Knierim inked contracts to play in the ECHL. The six graduates add to the list of 17 former Sun Devil skaters who play professional hockey.
The graduating players reminisced on their last time playing together at Oceanside Ice Arena against Long Island University as they were honored at senior night on March 12.
"There are a lot of good memories. We want to shut this place down the right way, so we're taking it all in," Wilson said at a press conference before the game on March 11.
Head coach Greg Powers echoed a similar sentiment and said the senior class has been an integral part of the team's success at Oceanside.
"I think it speaks a lot about our senior class, we're gonna miss all of them," Powers said. "They've all been so good to our program. They mean so much to everyone, and what we've done here."
READ MORE: ASU hockey's final act at Oceanside Ice Arena comes to an end
Theisen signed a professional tryout contract with the Tucson Roadrunners, the AHL affiliate of the Arizona Coyotes. In just his first and only year with the Sun Devils, he is the first to sign a professional contract in Arizona after being a top-10 for points per game.
So far, he has played three games with the Roadrunners, securing one goal and one assist.
Theisen only played one season at ASU after transferring from Notre Dame, but he left his mark on the program.
The team captain set the ASU record for most points during a season with 42 on 19 goals and 23 assists. In his last campaign, he became one of 28 players to play 175 games.
"I couldn't do it without my teammates if it wasn't for some great players this year and Powers put me in a great spot to work hard," Theisen said in a press conference at the end of the season. "I gave effort and I knew it was going to come, and that's the way it went."
Wilson signed a one-year contract with the Providence Bruins, an affiliate of the Boston Bruins to play in the 2022-23 campaign. He will join the club for the remainder of this season on an amateur tryout agreement. He has yet to play in a game for the club.
The graduate student holds the record for most games played in ASU history with 150. Throughout his career, he posted 32 points across six goals and 26 assists. He also accrued 145 penalty minutes and 210 field blocks.
Continuing with ASU record-holders, forward and co-captain Walker signed his first professional contract in the ECHL with the Utah Grizzlies. Throughout his tenure at ASU, he set the record for goals with 70 and points with 123. He has already played five games for the Grizzlies and has scored three points on one goal and two assists.
In his five seasons as a Sun Devil, his best year came in 2019-20, when he scored 38 points across 20 goals and 18 assists. In his final ASU campaign, he scored six goals and seven assists while only playing 23 games.
Graduate student transfer and defenseman Theocharidis signed with the Adirondack Thunder for the remainder of the ECHL season. After playing four games with the team, he joined the AHL Utica Comets, the affiliate of the New Jersey Devils, where he has played four games and not recorded a stat.
In his first and final season at ASU, he had four goals and 11 assists — second in goals on the team among the defensemen. Before coming to ASU, Theocharidis played for three years at Bowling Green University where he notched 39 points on 12 goals and 27 assists across 103 games.
Jack Becker and Willie Knierim
Forward and alternate captain Becker signed his contract with the Idaho Steelheads in the ECHL. Becker joins ASU alumnus Willie Knierim and David Norris.
He has played five games in a Steelhead uniform and has scored one goal and one assist.
The University of Michigan transfer played only one season for the Sun Devils after playing four seasons for the Wolverines, scoring 24 points in his final year with eight goals and 16 assists. At Michigan, he totaled 51 points on 26 goals and 25 assists in four seasons. He also was team captain for his final season with the Wolverines.
Knierim signed with the Steelheads on a standard contract midway through the 2021-22 season. He played at ASU for three years and tallied 20 goals and 15 assists in 69 games played. He has played 10 games for Idaho and has notched two goals and four assists.
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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.