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Sun Devil hockey teammates sing praises for captain Tyler Gratton

The Penn State transfer has hit the ground running in Tempe, with eight points and five goals so far in 2023


ASU graduate student forward Tyler Gratton (59) warms up at Mullett Arena on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023, in Tempe. ASU lost 8-4.

It says a lot about an athlete when they become a leader immediately upon arrival to a new program. That is what was asked of Sun Devil hockey captain and graduate forward Tyler Gratton, who was unanimously voted captain by his new ASU teammates.

With the "C" on his chest, Gratton has racked up eight points this season, including five goals and three assists. Gratton went on to score a goal in each of the four games against both Stonehill and Denver.

“He’s been unreal,” junior defenseman Ty Murchison said. “You’ve got to be a pretty great guy to come in as a transfer and get that captaincy right away. He’s a veteran, he’s a grizzled-looking guy, he’s got that toughness, he plays hard and he speaks well to the team, which is important.”

Similarly to Murchison, senior forward Matthew Kopperud has been in Tempe for a while and has seen his fair share of different leadership styles from previous captains.

“He’s a great friend,” Kopperud said. “He’s a person that off the ice you can talk to, and you’re not talking to him as a captain. He’s more of a friend. You don’t have to get scared that he’s going to go run and tell somebody something.”

Gratton came to ASU from Penn State, coming off posting career highs in points and assists a season ago. The former Nittany Lion assistant captain scored 15 points on seven goals and nine assists in 2022-23. His career best in goals came in his junior season when he netted nine.

The Sun Devil captain provided the most significant moment so far this season when he buried the game-winning goal against Denver in overtime to win 6-5 on Nov. 10.

After that game, when asked where the goal stacked up in his career-best, in true captain fashion he directed the credit toward the teammates who helped set him up for the game-winning goal.

“It was a big one,” Gratton said. “Like I said, I just happened to be in the right spot at the right time, and I capitalized. The other two guys out on the ice worked their butt off to make that play happen.”

Gratton and the Sun Devils are rolling right now, sitting at 9-2-1 to begin the season. While the ASU captain is happy with where they’re at, he knows there’s plenty of room for growth going forward.

“The one thing (we need) is maybe a little bit more consistency night in, night out,” Gratton said. “If we can try and replicate what we did Sunday, every game, then we won’t go into those tight games like we did Friday night against Alaska. Luckily, our power play stepped up when we needed it to, and special teams were able to win us a hockey game.”

That consistency will be tested with No. 9 Providence coming to Tempe this weekend. Game one is slated for Friday night at 7 p.m., and game two is set for Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. at Mullett Arena.

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

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