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Ranked ASU Hockey to face unranked Northern Michigan in homestand

After getting their first national ranking since 2020, the Sun Devils welcome Northern Michigan to Mullett trying to stay undefeated


ASU freshman forward Kyle Smolen (25) facing off against U of A on Friday, Oct. 6, 2023 in Mullett Arena in Tempe. ASU won 16-0.

Home games at Mullett Arena continue for Arizona State hockey (2-0-0) as they will face a solid Northern Michigan (0-1-1) team this weekend in Tempe. 

The Sun Devils earned their first ranking of the season, landing at No. 18 after a series sweep against No. 15 Merrimack, bumping Merrimack out of the rankings. The Sun Devils will now look to continue the high level of play and not get overconfident against an unranked but strong Northern Michigan team. 

“We expect to beat every team that we go out against every night and so confidence is high but it doesn't matter if the team against us is ranked or unranked,” senior forward Alex Young said. “We are going to go out there the same way and play the same way and expect to win every night.” 

Northern Michigan may not have a win under its belt yet, but it scored five goals in each of their games against No. 14 Minnesota-Duluth. 

The defense for the Sun Devils was exceptional against Merrimack, giving up only two goals between both games. Now, ASU faces perhaps a tougher challenge against a powerful offense and special teams. 

“They definitely bring a lot of offense, we’re going to have to tighten up our d-zone and be disciplined all around the ice,” freshman defenseman Anthony Dowd said. “(We can’t) give up a lot of odd-man rushes or take a lot of penalties because they do have good special teams.” 

Northern Michigan’s strong power play will be a lot for ASU to handle this weekend, as they have converted on 33% of their power plays so far this season. The Sun Devils' power play is still finding its footing, but there is no doubt the talent is there. 

“It’s been great having guys out there who can make those plays and read against them and know what they’re going to do,” Young said. “We had times where we could have been better, but I think we are going to be really good through this season.”

One of those playmakers is senior forward Matthew Kopperud, who had two goals and an assist over two games against Merrimack. After being sidelined for much of last season with injury, Kopperud has made it clear to the rest of the team that he will make a big impact this season.

“He’s a great player, he’s a great guy too, obviously he played unreal this past weekend,” Young said. “It’s fun being on the power play with him and watching him hit those one-timers. It's pretty amazing.”  

Kopperud’s first goal came in a 1-0 overtime win last Friday, and his second came the very next day, giving the Sun Devils a 3-2 lead with under a minute to play in the third period. The Sun Devils would go on to win 4-2. 

ASU will have to put those wins behind them if they want to remain ranked and pick up two more wins against Northern Michigan this weekend.  

“We have to keep our eyes on the prize. The first couple games kind of just getting our feet wet, guys are getting used to the pace,” senior Tim Lovell said. “If we stick to our game plan and just work hard in practice every day…I think we will be all set.” 

Edited by Alfred Smith III, Shane Brennan, Angelina Steel

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