(Photo: Gabrielle Mercer/WCSN)
If you look up the word “dominant” in the dictionary, it is defined as “to rule over.” While Jordan Masters has not ruled over anyone, his performance this season has been nothing short of dominant.
Masters is a prime example of the type of player coaches love to talk about: one who can contribute right away. As the owner of five goals and seven assists over 11 games, he is quickly becoming the face of Arizona State hockey in the team’s first year in the NCAA and is dominating some of the top teams in the country with his dazzling offensive play. Masters is leading an ASU freshman class that is tops in the nation in goals, assists, points and shots, among other categories.
The freshman highlights a recruiting class brought in by head coach Greg Powers that will help usher in a new era of Sun Devil hockey, one that is expected to be the foundation for years to come. In fact, he was so on board with joining the Sun Devils that he became their first ever Division I commit.
Originally from Rochester, N.Y., Masters has been around to various teams throughout his amateur career. He attended high school in Rochester Hills, Mich., and most notably played for the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the USHL in their inaugural season.
Of course, venturing out to the western United States to play a sport more popular out east is never an easy decision, especially when committing to a school that was just starting up its NCAA program, but Masters didn’t seem to have any qualms with his decision.
“I chose ASU because I have family in Scottsdale so I have always been around the area,” Masters said. “I knew that ASU was a new and playing for Muskegon, I have been around new teams. I liked the idea that they were a new team and wanted to get their name out there. To me the biggest thing was setting the tradition for all the guys to come here.”
Powers has preached to all of the players, both new and returning, to be the tradition for years to come, and Masters has exemplified this. Not only is he leading in goals and points, but is also second in assists and has been a physical force for ASU, rare for a player of his playmaking caliber. Although he is youthful and not the most vocal leader, he has led by example.
Standing at just 5-foot-11 and 195 pounds, Masters has found a way to succeed on the ice despite his stature not working to his advantage.
“I never used to be this physical,” he said. “My coach would tell me in juniors to go out and hit and be physical, and it has transitioned with me every game since then.”
The impressive play shown on a daily basis has started to attract attention from his coach, who believes that Masters is living up to his expectations.
“I knew how good he was,” Powers said. “That was why he was the first guy that we went after and put on scholarship when we moved to the NCAA. He is only going to get better and he is already really good. He was a highly touted kid and we are lucky to have him.”
Not only has Powers had a positive influence on Masters, but the whole coaching staff has helped him come into his own.
Assistant coaches Mike Field and Alex Hicks have played large roles in making Masters a better player on a daily basis.
“I have learned under the coaching staff here that every day is a hard day,” Masters said. “There are no easy days. Every day since I have been here has been a work day. They have also taught me that school comes first and I’m an athlete second.”
While there have been so many different factors that have played into Masters immense success, he attributes it mostly to staying healthy, something he struggled with in junior hockey. He said the key to his health was that he put on some weight in the offseason. ASU has worked around injury problems as a team, but Masters has not missed any time so far. He also credited the play of his line mates, Matt Kennedy and Joe Lappin, as keys to his hot start.
Individual success isn’t the only thing on Masters’ mind. He has set high goals for the team, whose record currently sits at 5-6-0. Although they are the newcomers in the NCAA, Masters wants to show that the Sun Devils are still a force to be reckoned with.
“I hope that as a team we can get 15 to 25 wins,” he said. “We want to get ready for next year too, because it will be an even harder schedule, so we just want to get the team going and set the tradition for the incoming freshman next year to carry it on through the next 20 years.”
As the schedule picks up heading into the midpoint of the season, the continued development of Masters will be imperative to the Sun Devils success going forward.
His dominating play has made him the centerpiece of the new tradition almost by default, as slowly but surely, it will be the name ‘Jordan Masters’ that people will think of when they hear Sun Devil Hockey.