It’s been a long road back for Ryan Ostertag, who suffered an upper body injury on Sept. 20 last season that sidelined him for most of his sophomore campaign.
The forward, who scored the game winning goal in the 2014 national championship game, is looking to return to his form from two years ago, when he posted 32 points in just 26 ACHA games.
Ostertag, affectionately called “O-Tag” by teammates and fans alike, is excited to be back on the ice and make a difference for the Sun Devils in their first season as an NCAA team.
“It means everything to me to get back on the ice,” he said. “I’m getting more confident as I keep playing and I’m looking forward to next week.”
The junior will be a huge “addition” for Coach Powers after he missed out on the team’s semifinal run last season.
“I was practicing a bit last year, but I didn’t get into any games,” Ostertag said. “Getting back into game speed is a whole new level, so I’m really excited to have this opportunity to play in some games.”
So far this season, Ostertag has played in three games and has yet to record a point. He was a healthy scratch in the additional three, likely to ease him into lineup.
The injury that he suffered was not one that he could do much about, so Ostertag had no choice but to sit and let it heal. He focused on doing all the little things right, such as getting as much rest as possible; he even had to go home to Canada for a few months during the season. He got through the tough time by having faith that it would all work out, which happened over time.
Ostertag is not short on accolades. In addition to winning the ACHA tournament, he was also on the first-team all tournament team and was named ASU rookie of the year in the 2013-2014 season.
A big step up from the club hockey landscape, Ostertag is excited to be playing in the NCAA, although it will be a big shift from ACHA play. The switch will be especially difficult for a guy who, essentially, has not played for two seasons.
“It’s obviously a faster and bigger game,” he said. “There are changes off the ice too that we have to get adjusted to. I have nothing but good things to say about the jump.”
He is also optimistic in his outlook for the team in their first go-around in the NCAA.
“There are a lot of doubters and people who feel that we can’t compete this season,” he said. “As a team we want to be at the level where we can compete every single game.”
He isn’t likely to get the playing time that he got in his freshman year, but Ostertag still has strong expectations for himself.
“I want to get in lineup and help our team score goals and win games in any way possible,” he said.
Keep an eye on O-tag this season, as his long and impressive comeback is bound to make a difference for the Sun Devils.