(Photo: Allyson Cummings/WCSN)
Familiar foes collide this weekend, as the UA Wildcats pay a visit to the Sun Devils for the final series on home ice at Oceanside Arena.
ASU head coach Greg Powers and his team are trying to hang on to their number one ranking in the ACHA, but they will have to manage without a considerable number of key contributors. Forwards Chris Burkemper, Ryan Belonger, Sean Murphy and defensemen Jordan Young, Connor Schmidt and Ed McGovern have departed for Granada, Spain where they are representing the United States at the Winter World University Games.
Without two of their top scorers in Murphy and Belonger, the Devils will need to keep up the balanced attack that they have displayed in the last few weeks. Senior forward Faiz Khan will look to continue his late but solid start to the season. A repeat of his three-point game last weekend against Stony Brook would be more than welcome against the Wildcats.
The Wildcats transition into 2015 has not been as smooth as they had hoped. They have yet to win a game against an ACHA Division 1 opponent in the New Year, and are currently on an eight-game losing streak.
Their greatest struggle this season has been keeping the puck out of their own net. Regular goaltender Garrett Patrick is allowing more than 3.5 goals per contest, with backups Austin Wilson and Dylan Hojnacki not faring any better.
The short-handed Sun Devils and the streaky Wildcats have questions headed into the final stretch of the regular season. ASU is hoping to maintain the top seed to position themselves for a deep tournament run. On the other hand, Arizona is trying to salvage the positive start to their season and finish the year strongly.
The puck will drop at 7:30 this Friday at Oceanside Arena. Catch the live broadcast at http://www.cronkitesports.com/live-broadcasts.