(Photo: Allyson Cummings/WCSN)
The Arizona State hockey team has been anxiously awaiting the September 20 season opener since last season’s semifinal playoff exit. Their opponent is the San Diego State Aztecs, a team that was outscored 22-3 by the Sun Devils in two games last season.
This season’s Sun Devils squad welcomes fifteen new players to the 30-man roster, but none have higher expectations than winger Sean Murphy.
Coach Greg Powers has placed Murphy in the spot of graduated senior Dan Styrna alongside top liners Faiz Khan and Colin Hekle, and the results look good. Murphy notched two goals in the Maroon & Gold scrimmage earlier this month. As a freshman with quick hands and a knack for scoring goals, Murphy is a big face of the future for the team.
One interesting decision in this game will be how Powers handles his goaltenders. Last season’s starter Joe D’Elia faces major competition for the starting spot in freshmen Lucas Felbel and Robert Levin. Both newcomers have impressed and Powers decision will be a hard one. Expect the goalies to at least share starts, and possibly even periods between the pipes, this weekend.
Big holes at the blue line were a concern going into the season, but existing, strong leadership and smart new additions will fix those worries.
Senior Brett Prechel and sophomores Jordan Young, Sean Ritchie and Brett Blomgren are all healthy and ready to step up into leadership roles for the four freshmen pointmen. Those four are Drew Newmeyer, Jarrod Levos, Troy Hoban and Alex Temby. Each of these defensemen should play at least one game a piece, and all are capable of playing regularly, but look for Newmeyer and Temby to secure starting spots once the weekend is over.
The Aztecs already have one game under their belt, an 8-2 win over CSU Long Beach last Friday in their home opener. They are looking to leave Tempe fast and face CSU Long Beach again next Saturday on the road.
The puck drops on the 2013-14 season at 7:30 PM PST on Friday. Can’t make it to Oceanside Ice Arena? Watch the game live on Cronkite Sports.