The atmosphere has been buzzing over at Mullett Arena as the Sun Devils look to continue the best start in program history.
No.13 ASU is sitting at 9-2-1, coming off their fourth sweep this season against Alaska Anchorage this past weekend. The scorching-hot Sun Devils will be tested this weekend, with No.9 Providence coming to Tempe for a two-game set.
The two programs have only faced off once, where ASU fell to the Friars 6-0 defeat on Dec. 29, 2017, in Pittsburgh. Since then, ASU has become a Division I program.
On Tuesday morning, head coach Greg Powers didn’t hold back on his praise for the No. 9 team in the nation, saying they have had some tough breaks in two razor-thin losses to UMass.
“Huge weekend against a really, really good team,” Powers said. “They may be the best team we play all year. That’s not a knock on anyone else we play, but they are that good. We watched the tape of both games against UMass. They deserved a better fate, and they lost two games late. They’re going to come in here hungry and ready to go, and we know we have our work cut out for us.”
Providence stands at 8-3-2 headed into Tempe. Their ranked wins include splitting a series against Michigan, sweeping New Hampshire, and beating Denver in a single-game series.
The resume speaks for itself, and Powers has noticed what makes Providence so good.
“They’re so hard to play against; they just play the right way," Powers said. "They’re insanely well-coached. They have depth at every position.”
In Sunday’s game against Alaska Anchorage, junior goalie TJ Semptimphelter recorded his seventh career shutout. The Sun Devil goaltender has continued to be the backbone for ASU in his second season in Tempe.
“He’s awesome; I think there was a couple of times at the 10-minute mark in the third period, and he just made huge saves that helped us secure the weekend, so it’s great having him back there,” graduate student forward Brian Chambers said.
The Sun Devil power play is fourth in the country with a .291 percentage on the man advantage. Their 16 power play goals have been a massive key to the Sun Devils' success in 2023.
On the flip side, the common denominator in ASU’s losses has been the inability to close teams out. In their two losses, ASU has blown a 4-1 lead on the road at Miami (OH) and gave up five unanswered goals while up 3-0 against Denver is all that separates ASU from an undefeated record. They avoided that fate in the last game against Alaska Anchorage.
“What we did really well Sunday is that obviously our two losses had been blown leads,” graduate student defenseman Brandon Tabakin said. “So we go up 1-0, we go up 2-0, it was critical that we close that game out in convincing fashion, and we did that.”
Like last week, the series against Providence will be a Friday-Sunday series, with Saturday off in between. Puck drop on Friday at Mullett Arena is set for 7 p.m., while Sunday’s clash is set to begin at 2 p.m.
Edited by Alfred Smith III, Walker Smith and Shane Brennan