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ASU hockey gets back on the ice

(Photo: Allyson Cummings/WCSN)

It’s been 2 weeks since the final overtime buzzer signaled the Sun Devils’ 19th straight win, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t having any fun on the ice.

After four grueling three- game weekends in a row, Coach Powers spiced things up in practice, setting up a Canada versus USA and a Veterans versus Rookies showdown. In the end the rookies and the Canadians came out on top.

“Last week was a good week to add a little trinket of fun and give a different feel to practice to make sure they’re enjoying being at the rink when they don’t have any games,” Powers said. “But at the same time, get them to compete hard and work hard. And they had fun.”

As team Canada’s prize, junior forward Faiz Khan was forced to wear Captain Colin Hekle’s Winnipeg Jets jersey while freshmen Alex Temby and Patrick Yudez sported skin-tight, Canadian-flag spandex suits.

Now, after a well-earned rest, the top ranked Sun Devils face yet another top 10 opponent. The 2 game series with the Iowa State begins Monday night at Oceanside Ice Arena.

Still at a spotless 19-0-0 record, ASU is the only remaining Men’s Division 1 team in the ACHA without a loss.

“It kind of comes with the territory. People will always want to beat the number 1 team in the nation. Now that we’re here, we have to play that much better – prove that we’re number 1,” said freshman forward Michael Cummings.

The Sun Devils close out a six-day Southwest road trip for the no. 4 Cyclones, who faced the Arizona Wildcats over the weekend. Even with the retirement of Al Murdoch, ISU’s coach since 1970, they were able to shutout the Wildcats 3-0 and 5-0.

Murdoch left the Cyclones on a high note, sweeping no. 2 Minot State and capping 1,070 wins in his career. Assistant coach Jason Fairman was elected by the players to take his place.

“It was huge for us to get some rest,” Cummings said. “We’re looking forward to playing another top-ranked team. We expect another physical game [Iowa State’s] a lot like Williston state and Minot State.”

ISU netminder Matt Cooper has been solid throughout the season; saving all 74 shots the Wildcats sent his way this weekend. He has 15 wins and 1.67 goals against average and a .945 save percentage following their shutout against Arizona. Their top forward, senior Jon Feavel, has also been producing, leading the team with 15 goals and is now on a three-game goal-scoring streak.

“They’re deep, they’re physical…nobody has been able to sweep them,” Coach Powers said. “They come out firing and bounce back really well… sweeping Minot is not easy.”

“We have to do the same thing against Minot – just put pucks on net. One will come to somebody’s stick. We just have to bear on our opportunities,” Cummings said.

The Maroon and Gold bench will be a little different facing ISU. Hekle, Khan and Yudez are expected to return to the lineup soon but will be out this week due to undisclosed injuries. Senior forward Brian McGinty will also serve his DQ from Williston State on Monday. The rookies will once again be called on to fill big roles.

“The young guys have to show what our future is all about if we’re going to continue to perform at a really high level,” Powers said. “They’re capable of it…these next four games they’re going to be heavily leaned on.”

Cooper and the Cyclone blue line will still have their hands full with ASU’s top line of Kale Dolinski, Liam Norris and Danny McAuliffe who combine for a total 83 points. Senior forward David Jantzie will be back alongside Troy Scott and Kory Chisholm on the 4th line.

ISU will also face a dangerous special teams unit. The Sun Devil power play has been one of the big reason’s why the offense has been so dangerous. They’ve been able to find twine on 34 percent of their power plays and are at a stellar 95 percent on the penalty kill.

The puck drops at 8:00 on Monday and Tuesday night. Watch the live broadcast at http://www.cronkitesports.com/live-broadcasts.

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