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ASU D1 Hockey: Sun Devils host WCHL rivals Colorado and Colorado State

(Photo: Allyson Cummings/WCSN)

After a 6-4 victory against the Liberty Flames last week, the (11-1) Sun Devils face WCHL rivals Colorado and Colorado State this Halloween weekend.

Even though last Thursday’s win might not have been pretty, ASU head coach Greg Powers says that the weekend rest allowed the team to recharge their batteries and should see a better performance on the ice come tonight against the ( 6-2 ) Colorado Buffaloes.

“We can play a lot better and everyone knows it,” Powers said. “The fact that we’re at realistically 50 percent capacity and we’re 11-1 is a good thing. All I told them was to hit the reset button and erase everything because it’s not anything that we teach and anything we prepare for- and they did.”

After the first period against Liberty, ASU was able to find rhythm and cash in on their opportunities, scoring four goals in the first 10 minutes. If they can recapture this explosiveness, it will help finish off both Colorado teams who are on a three-day Southwest road trip against ASU and UA.

“That killer instinct has not been developed yet, and it’s important that we figure out how to develop that pretty quickly,” said Powers.

In the last series against CSU, it took an eight-round shootout goal by then senior forward Brian McGinty to wrap up the game 6-5. The next night ASU would end the matchup in a 9-1 rout.

This year under new head coach Eric Sunness, the Rams are ranked No. 25 with a 7-3 record. Like their in-state rival Colorado, CSU is still new to the league, only moving up to Division 1 a year ago.

“They are the reigning National Champions,” said Sunness. “I expect a lot of skill and speed. It’s just a well-rounded club from top to bottom. I think we just need to stick to our plan, stay out of the penalty box and be disciplined.”

Neither the Buffaloes nor the Rams have a standout player with all the points being equally balanced across the lineup. However CSU’s Alex Stiedler and CU’s Alex Palumbo are both goaltenders that can keep his team in striking distance.

“[Stiedler] has been a hot goalie for us. He’s a hard-working kid and understands competition. That’s why he’s seen the majority of time in net this year.”

Stiedler is currently 7-3 with a .863 save percentage. Palumbo, who also carries a heavy workload, is 5-2 for a .929 save percentage.

Between the pipes for ASU, freshman Jordan Gluck will get the nod to start tonight against Colorado. With another three-game weekend coming up next week against Rutgers and Stony Brook, coach Powers doesn’t want to push Robert Levin in net each night this series.

In three game weekends you need to rely on more than your stucker,” he said. “Those guys need to step up. It didn’t work out against UCO, we didn’t get what we needed so Jordan is going to get a shot.”

Three things to watch for:

  •  Defenseman Jarrod Levos will play right-winger on the 4th line tonight.He was also featured as a forward in both games against Oklahoma.
  • Freshman forward Mak Barden who hasn’t quite had the opportunity to play in a top-nine role, will get the chance this weekend. Coach Powers said that he has consistently been one of the best rookie forwards in practice.
  • Junior captain Brett Blomgren is finding his rhythm again. Powers said he’s been shooting the puck more confidently in practice this week.

The puck drops at 8:00 P.M Thursday and 7:30 P.M on Friday and Saturday. Watch the live broadcast at http://www.cronkitesports.com/live-broadcasts

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