After avenging last season’s loss on senior night with a sweep of rival Arizona, the Sun Devils head into a brutal weekend facing two top-five teams: the Central Oklahoma Bronchos and the Oklahoma Sooners.
Sitting at 8-0, they are among Colorado, Adrian College, and Central Oklahoma as the only undefeated teams in the ACHA.
Central Oklahoma has started off on the right foot with a 9-0 record. They have a balanced offensive attack, with nine skaters already with double-digit points. However, some of their gaudy stats may be inflated due to their lack of competition. Of their nine victories, only three have come against ACHA Division 1 opponents. The Bronchos skate into this game after letting Division 3 Arkansas hang around. Nevertheless, ASU expects a competitive 60 minutes.
ASU head coach Greg Powers said he and his players will have their hands full against the team with the most goals scored in the ACHA.
“UCO is probably the hardest working team in our league,” said Powers on this week’s segment of “Hell Frozen Over”. “If you don’t go in there prepared, they’ll beat anybody.”
Although they are equally or more talented than their in-state counterpart, the Oklahoma Sooners (6-2) do not have the record to show it. Their two losses have come against top-20 teams. Oklahoma’s first series of the season ended with a 2-1 loss against Iowa State. Last week, the Sooners split with Linwood University, losing their second game in an 8-1 rout. They host Arizona State in a situation extremely similar to last season, when they handed the Sun Devils their first loss.
“They are really talented,” said Powers. “They’re a conference rival and they’ll be ready for us.”
The Sooners’ offensive numbers do not compare with Arizona State’s thus far, but their backline and goalie Colin Fernandes have performed well, holding opponents to less than 2.3 goals per game. It will be interesting to see how well they will be able to handle Arizona State’s balance and depth.
In order to keep their undefeated season going, the Sun Devils will need another strong performance from goaltender Robert Levin, who has been hot in every game. If he is able to shut down Central Oklahoma’s offense and the backline keeps Oklahoma’s athleticism in check, the Sun Devils will have a good chance of returning from Oklahoma unscathed.
You can reach Christian Coates on Twitter @ChristianCoates27.