(Photo: Amanda Luberto/WCSN)
The Arizona State Sun Devils face an early test as they open the season at home against the Weber State Wildcats. Both teams are looking to take the next step as they made playoff runs last season in the ACHA Division II National Tournament but failed to advance beyond pool play.
The Wildcats come in at 2-1 on the young season, but have last season’s playoff roster virtually intact. On the other side, the Sun Devils are dealing with a myriad of changes to a roster that went 20-5-4 during the regular season and received an automatic bid into the playoffs.
The Sun Devils will have to deal with some major losses as six of their top eleven point producers and 5 of their 8 double-digit goal scorers from last season graduated, including top point man Cameron Morgan.
All four goalies from last year’s roster are not on the roster for this season, Senior Kyle Dietriech will step in after spending last season as a backup to Joe D’Elia for the Sun Devils’ division I team. Seven of the nine defensemen on this year’s roster are returning from last season as well providing a solid base for a team wondering where the offense will com from.
Weber State comes into the matchup with the roster virtually unchanged. The Wildcats’ top six point producers, and eight of their top ten from last season, all return.
Sophomore goaltender Ian Frank also returns. Frank has a 0.92 save percentage so far this season with a 2.51 goals against average and will need to keep his numbers there as the Wildcats have five new players on defense. Even with the changes on defense, a strong core and experienced goalie will make Weber State a tough out for every team on their schedule.
During the 2012-2013 season, Arizona State won both of their games against Weber State by a combined score of 13-2. This season’s series is expected to be much closer. A tough challenge against a good opponent could be exactly what Arizona State needs to see where the young team is as they attempt to get back to the postseason.
Arizona State takes on Weber State at 7:30pm, Saturday, September 28th at Oceanside Ice Arena in Tempe.
You can reach Matthew Harden on Twitter @MattHarden or at email@example.com