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Rollercoaster of success and failure for ASU hockey

After earning two victories this weekend, it's time to evaluate what's working and what's not for ASU hockey

230127 Hoc vs St. Thomas.jpg
ASU junior forward Lukas Sillinger (61) taking a shot pregame vs St.Thomas at Mullett Arena in Tempe on Friday, Jan. 27, 2023. ASU won 4-0.

It's safe to say the ASU hockey team has been on a rollercoaster during the 2022-23 season.

The hockey season for the Sun Devils is coming down to the wire, with only ten games left in the regular season. The squad is on an up-and-down trajectory, grabbing two wins from St. Thomas over the weekend  after a four-game losing streak. 

Mullett Arena has provided some magic for the team. Their home record is 10-8, as opposed to their 3-8 form on the road. 

"Obviously, after the last couple weeks, we've kind of been in a slump, so just getting back here, getting a sweep, and kind of feeling the energy again in this place, it will help propel us into next weekend also," said senior forward Robert Mastrosimone

The student section has been packed on game nights, bringing the team a boost of energy into their game. But it's not just the fan section. ASU draws large crowds for a small arena, currently ranked No. 17 in Division I for game attendance. The capacity at Mullett Arena is 5,000, and the average attendance per game is 4,296. The team has to find a way to bring this energy on the road. 

Sophomore captain Josh Doan doesn't think this energy will simmer. He thinks it'll give the team what it needs to win their next two games this weekend. 

"We're gonna have to bring our A game, but hopefully feed off this and feed off the confidence of a big comeback win like this and our performance Friday night and carry that into next weekend," Doan said Saturday night.  

The team has also been producing stats from several different players. Junior defenseman Tim Lovell has three goals and nine assists for the team but has been on the injury list for a couple of weeks. However, talent has been spread throughout the team, with Mastrosimone and Doan leading with 29 and 22 points, respectively. 

Juniors Dylan and Ty Jackson, along with grad student forward Demetrios Koumontzis were also essential players in the wins against St. Thomas. The Jackson brothers and Koumontzis each had one goal and an assist in Friday's victory, and sophomore forward Jack Jensen scored the other goal for the team that night.  

Being able to lean on different players will be a vital asset for the team as they enter their last ten games. 

Sophomore goaltender TJ Semptimphelter is another strength for the Sun Devils. He's been a brick wall in the net this season, and he'll be vital to ASU's success in the upcoming games. Semptimphelter has played in 29 games this season, started in 28, and made 837 total saves. He's posted five shutouts, four of which were at home, and has posted a .918 save percentage, and allows 2.74 goals per game.

Head coach Greg Powers is trying to give him some rest before the series, starting senior goalie Ben Kraws on Saturday night, but Semptimphelter ended up finishing the game for the team. 

"Just changed the mojo up a little bit and put our horse in. It's done a lot of really good things for us and see if he could get in there and win us a game, and he did," Powers said. 

The power play is something the team needs to work on. ASU is currently ranked No. 36 in the country for their power play stats, scoring only 18 goals on the power play this season. 

"You're not always going to be perfect," Doan said about the power play. "You're getting opportunities and momentum off of it, and it’s all you can ask for when you’re not scoring." 

Faceoffs are also an area of improvement for the team. They're ranked No. 42 in Division I men's hockey teams for their faceoff percentage, which is currently 48.3%. Mastrosimone is among the leading players in faceoffs, garnering 85 wins and 75 losses. Other players, such as Ty Jackson, who has 82 wins and 117 losses, could be more consistent with their faceoffs. A win or a loss could set the pace for that specific shift. 

While the team has areas to improve, it certainly has the talent and the desire to end the season on a high note. They’re continuing to develop and find their footing as a team. 

"People forget how young this team is. You know, it's one of the youngest teams in college hockey," Powers said. 

"It's hard, obviously, not to think about all those other games, but we got to let them go and let everything that happened in the past go,"  Mastrosimone said. "Let’s go out there and go 12-0."

The Sun Devils travel to Fairbanks, Alaska, this week for a two-game series Friday and Saturday against the Nanooks at 9 p.m. MST. 

Edited by Walker Smith, Reagan Priest, and Anusha Natarajan.

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