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ASU – UMD preview

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The Arizona State Sun Devils will take on the University of Minnesota-Duluth today, in a match-up of two of last year’s MCLA tournament teams.

The UMD Bulldogs may only be ranked 18th, but their 4-0 record includes Friday night’s win over no. 15 Cal Poly. The Sun Devils, at 3-0, have beaten two top 25 MCLA opponents (Cal, Cal Poly).

This comes on the back end of ASU’s two-game stint in Minnesota, and will feature a home crowd for UMD, whose campus is no more than 30 miles out. The Bulldogs are hot, and will look to leap in the rankings with a sweep of Cal Poly and ASU.

Cal Poly held it close with both teams, falling in double-overtime to UMD and losing 9-7 to ASU after the score was locked at 7-7.

Keep in mind that UMD has had an extra day of rest while the Sun Devils played rigorously against Cal Poly until the game’s finish yesterday. The Devils could be worn down from yesterday’s game, and will have to reach into their depth to pull this one out.

Arizona State’s goalie riddle has been solved, for now. Yesterday Preston Andersen was given the start, and he ran away with it, allowing only seven goals against a decent Cal Poly offense.

“He cleared the ball well and is a great communicator,” ASU head coach Chris Malone said of Andersen.

UMD will try to put pressure on early, seeing as they have the close-to-home advantage as well as plenty of rest on their side.

Player to Watch

G Preston Andersen, #35

Yes, the controversy in the cage is discussed all too much, but there’s still plenty to prove for the freshman. He’s earned his spot as the starter, but now he’s going to have to manage to hold onto it. He was put in awkward situations yesterday on breakaway chances that never should have happened, but he stepped up big in the fourth quarter.

So far, that’s been Andersen’s claim to fame: he’s a closer. He closed out the final 26 minutes against no. 15 Cal in the team’s season-opener, and followed it with an easy victory over SDSU. Yesterday he proved he’s still on top of his game with a shut-down of Cal Poly down the final stretch of the game.

But Brandon Propp still isn’t far behind on the depth chart, and coach Malone has enough faith in both goaltenders to know that calling Propp into the game is only a slight drop-off. Andersen doesn’t need to be looking over his shoulder, but he will have to keep his game under lock.

PREGAME NOTES: In yesterday’s game Finn Wells (#3) and Kyle Denis (#10) were playing with white jerseys #51 (Denis) and #52 (Wells). UMD has taken Cal Poly to overtime in its past two match-ups (last year’s tournament and Friday night). ASU has played all neutral-site or road games to date in recording their 3-0 record. The game will be broadcasted on LaxxTV. Cal Poly is done with round-robin play and will head home from Minnesota with an 0-2 record. Andersen is not officially the starting goaltender for today’s game. ASU hasn’t started 4-0 since 2011, when they won seven straight to start the year.

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