ASU Men’s Hockey Primed and Ready to Begin NCAA Season
By Will Everett // NCAA Hockey Reporter for Blaze Sports
Tempe, AZ The ASU men’s varsity ice hockey team will start their season off this weekend as they take on the visiting UMASS-Amherst Minutemen this Friday and Saturday at 7:05pm in Tempe.
The Sun Devils are coming off a 4-1 exhibition win against the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) last weekend on home ice. Two wins are on the table as the ASU plays in front of a home crowd.
UMASS-Amherst will be Arizona State’s first true NCAA D1 opponent this season. UMASS goes into the regular season unranked, but ASU’s head coach, Greg Powers, doesn’t want to overlook them.
“They’re a good team with a really good coach,” Powers said.
The Sun Devils took back to back wins from the Minutemen on the road last year, both by scores of 4-1, which could prompt a certain level of raise intensity from UMASS.
The Minutemen are also coming off an exhibition win. UMASS beat Queens University (CIS), 1-0, last Saturday.
ASU is looking to build on the tone set by last weekend’s victory. A major positive to that win was the four goals scored by four different players (freshman Johnny Walker, freshman Filips Buncis, sophomore Brent Gruber, and sophomore Brinson Pasichnuk).
Goalies sophomore Joey Daccord and junior Ryland Pashovitz will also have to be prepared, as both saw action and played exceptionally well against NAIT.
Given that this is ASU’s first full D1 season against strictly D1 teams, if the Sun Devils start the season 2-0 it would be an welcomed feat. This is because the 2016 Sun Devils started out with three consecutive losses before beating No. 17 Air Force on the road. The first two losses were a 9-2 and 4-2 humbling against Notre Dame in South Bend.
The Sun Devils have a chance to make a statement early in the NCAA regular season, but it won’t be a light task.
“UMASS is a completely different team,” said Powers. “They’re definitely going to be gunning for us.”