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Can the Sun Devils replace their three defensive senior leaders?

(Photo: Allyson Cummings-WCSN)

Three seniors gone. Four incoming recruits ready to take their place.

Defensemen Brian Parson, Darcy Charrois and Ryan Clark were leaders of the Sun Devil blue line during the team’s national semifinal run in the ACHA Championships.

The three musketeers combined for 19 goals and 50 assists last season, but they all developed into reliable two way players by the end of their Sun Devil careers. By the end of the season, each senior anchored one of the three defensive pairings so head coach Greg Powers has no choice this fall but to spice up his three lines and trust his underclassmen.

“We have some really good natural leaders back there that have played at very high levels. This D core has a lot of talent and is full of players who have worn letters at high levels. We’ll miss those three greatly, but these guys are up to the task,” Powers said.

Rising sophomores Jordan Young, Brett Blomgren, and Sean Ritchie each had impressive first years in their maroon and gold sweaters. Jordan Young started off the season red-hot offensively and he led the team in points after the first three weekends, but his production simmered down as the schedule got more difficult.

Young did miss roughly a month of the season due to a lower body injury sustained in a game against the Wildcats and Young is fully recovered and ready for a big year not only on the team, but in the entire league.

“Jordan Young is the best D-man in the country and now he’s healthy. He will have a monster year,” Powers said.

Though Powers’ regards are hard to match up to, Blomgren and Ritchie left their marks in the final weeks of the season when they were virtually perfect defensively. But the Sun Devils have signed four new defensive recruits, including the late addition of USHL’s Drew Newmeyer.

Before 5-foot-10, 170-pound Newmeyer signed with Powers and the Sun Devils, there was speculation that senior captain Colin Hekle would shift to defense to help fill the void and lack of experience. It’s still too early to know for sure, but it looks like Hekle will be returning to his duties as the team’s top center.

Newmeyer is one of four recruits who could make an immediate impact on the blue line. MJHL Troy Hoban, NAHL Alex Temby and WSHL Jarrod Levos will compete with the returning Sun Devils for an immediate starting spot in the fall.

Though they may not be legal to drink, Hoban was already the captain of his junior team and Temby won a national championship. That kind of leadership will undoubtedly help the Sun Devils program as they begin another run for their first ACHA championship.

Taking a peak at last season, the three active goaltenders each had goals against averages below 2.75 because the leadership in front of them helped block and clear away loose pucks on the top of the crease.

For those who are skeptical about what the Sun Devils’ defense will look like in Oceanside, look no further than a young crop of stars eager to turn Arizona State into the powerhouse of the ACHA.

Everyone is expecting ASU’s offense to be one of the best in the league again, but not many people know what to expect from the team’s defense. The program’s attack has been outstanding in recent years, but offense is not the sole answer to winning.

Though the Sun Devils defense is young and raw, it has the ability and potential to lift this team to a national championship immediately.

You can reach Nick Marek on Twitter @nmarekasu14 or by email nmarek@asu.edu.

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