(Photo: Megan Plain/WCSN)
Arizona State head coach Greg Powers held his first weekly press conference of the season on Monday, focusing on the progression of his team, new pieces and what can be expected in the team’s sophomore season.
“Last year was a hybrid year and it was a great introductory year in Division I hockey,” Powers said. “This year, with it being our first full schedule, just the schedule that we’re playing, we’re playing a really tough schedule.”
This season, the Sun Devils will take on seven of the top 15 teams in the country, three of last year’s Frozen Four finalists, as well as numerous teams who played in the 2016 NCAA Tournament.
In its first NCAA season, Arizona State finished 5-22 against NCAA opponents.
“Figuring out what it’s going to take to get to that level with a young, inexperienced group, but a hungry group, is going to be a lot of fun.” Powers said.
Powers continued to place a high emphasis on recruiting in the offseason, and with his seven freshmen commitments as well as the various transfer players coming in, he believes that his team his far and away better than it was last season.
“There is really no comparison [to last year’s team],” Powers said. “Last year, our kids gave everything they had, we really ran out of gas in that second half with all the travel and really half of our team are club guys that just weren’t used to the grind of NCAA competition. Having those five redshirts that were here last year and helped us kind of mold and sculpt the culture that we’re proud of right now and still building on, then certainly our new, first really good full freshmen recruiting class that we think will contribute right away.
“Completely different team and we expect to be competitive.”
At the goalie position, Powers added even more depth with the commitment of Ottawa Senators draftee Joey Daccord of the Muskegon Lumberjacks.
Last season, Daccord finished with 1,344 saves for the Lumberjacks – a team record – and was one of the most coveted goalie prospects in the country.
According to Powers, Daccord has lived up to the bill and has already started to compete with Robert Levin and Ryland Pashovitz.
“All three of those guys look really good,” Powers said. “It’ll sort itself out, Joey’s as advertised, he was drafted for a reason by Ottawa and he’s a tremendous talent, he’s a great athlete. With Rob, I would say right now Rob probably looks better than he’s looked at any point in the four years that I’ve coached him.”
Powers plans to pick up where the team left off last season and continue to try and make a reputation for hockey on the west coast, something he feels the program has already started to do.
“We said when we announced that we were going to exploit the fact that we’re the most unique college hockey experience in the country and we are,” Powers said. “Our mantra here is Be the Tradition and kids have an opportunity to come here, set a standard and do something really special.”