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No.13 ranked Sun Devil Hockey heads to Miami (Ohio) for first road series

The Sun Devils are off to their best start in program history, already sweeping the first two series

ASU freshman forward Matthew Romer (17) looking across the ice on Friday, Oct. 6, 2023 at Mullett Arena in Tempe. ASU won 16-0.

Head Coach Greg Powers has Sun Devil Hockey off to a scorching start, sweeping the first two series of the season as they head to Miami (Ohio) for their first road series. 

ASU ranked No.13 nationally by this week. It's the Sun Devils' second-highest ranking since the 2019-20 season when ASU ranked as high as ninth. 

Power's squad has been firing on all cylinders with goals from 10 different players, including graduate forward and captain Tyler Gratton, freshman forward Kyle Smolen and San Jose Sharks prospect senior forward Alex Young, all netting their first in Tempe. 

"The balance is there, the depth is there," Powers said. "When you have a fourth line that's arguably been our best line, it's pretty impressive. We want to play a game five-on-five as much as we can because we have that depth. I thought Saturday we really managed our shift length well." 

Junior goaltender TJ Semptimphelter has been stingy, only given up five goals in the first four games. Semptimphelter picked up where he left off in 2023 with his sixth shutout in a Sun Devil uniform in the season opener against Merrimack.

Powers noted how impressed he is with how the team has gelled this quickly. Multiple players have also raved about the closeness.

"We have close teams basically every year, but this one is one that's close on the ice as well," senior forward Benji Eckerle said. 

Eckerle attributed the chemistry to the team's training camp when the staff pushed the Sun Devil players to their absolute limit.

"It was our pre-season, honestly," Eckerle said. "We had a really hard pre-season, really hard off-ice, really hard on-ice stuff. That kind of stuff brings everyone together in one common struggle here."  

This weekend's matchup against Miami (Ohio) has a little extra meaning. The Redhawks are in the NCHC, the conference ASU will join next season.

READ MORE: ASU hockey joins NCHC for 2024-25 season

It's one of three NCHC opponents on the Sun Devil schedule this season. Two series from now, ASU will welcome the No. 2 ranked Denver Pioneers for a two-game set. Then, in December, the Sun Devils will travel to Colorado College for another big road series. 

Road series are massive for an independent program like ASU, especially when only five are on this season's schedule. It will be paramount that the Sun Devils take advantage of every road opportunity, as they could be the difference between making the NCAA tournament or not. 

"This series is huge," Tim Lovell, senior defenseman, said. "The fact that we're still an independent team for this year, guys need to know how important these games are. The fact we’re going in 4-0, I think we can take full advantage of that, headed in there with confidence, and hopefully get the sweep against these guys."

Edited by Alfred Smith III, Walker Smith and Caera Learmonth.

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