After a three-week break, the Sun Devils were welcomed back to Oceanside Ice Arena in front of a standing room only crowd. Number three Robert Morris came to Tempe hoping to upset the maroon and gold’s unmarked ACHA record. I sat down before the game with Robert Morris-Illinois captain Christopher Cimoch to discuss his team’s game plan.
“Friday night we usually just look for the first win and go from there. We don’t look past Friday night or the first period really,” Cimoch commented.
Robert Morris has not played a hockey game since November 17th, and the question coming into the series was would the time off be an advantage for getting extra rest or a disadvantage for potentially being rusty.
“I don’t think it’s going to affect us one way or the other. You know we come out here to play either way. It certainly isn’t going to hurt us, but I don’t look at it as an advantage either,” Cimoch responded.
Whenever a number one ranked team takes on a number three team, you are surely in for a show. The Eagles were able to get on the board first with a Tony Domico goal, but as the game progressed and the tension increased, the third period became a tale of penalty minutes.
There were a total of 55 penalty minutes and two ten-minute game misconducts (both on RMU) according to the ACHA. It seemed as though right when someone entered the sin bin, another one was sure to follow. There was one point where ASU and RMU each had four skaters in the box at one time. Saying the game got completely out of control quickly became an understatement.
The Sun Devils did not play their best hockey of the season but they still won by a decisive 7-4 decision. Once the game ended, I caught up with ASU Captain Colin Hekle regarding the aggression displayed on the ice.
“I played on the edge, when I see guys taking liberty with my players I feel like I have to stick up for them,“ Hekle said.
And that Hekle certainly did. With two early trips to the box, he assumed a leadership role and defended his team.
“Robert Morris was getting a little bit frustrated at the play, and then we got up a little bit on them and they started taking liberties with our players. You have to stick up for yourself at some point,” Hekle added.
The lingering question is will Saturday night’s game be as aggressive as Friday’s, or will we see more control from both teams?
Cimoch commented, “I think we will be right there with them, we got four lines that can compete as well. We know about their depth and we just hope that we bring out the same intensity that we do every weekend. “
Where Cimoch is more focused on keeping up with the Sun Devils, Hekle responded that his team needs to keep their emotions in check.
“We should keep the aggression up, but just be smarter about it. We don’t want penalties. They are bad for everyone,” Hekle said. “It messes up the lines and everything like that so if we can stay out of the box but still keep the same intensity I think we will be good.”
Both teams will be ready to compete and continue the battle on Saturday. With a match-up between two of the top three teams in the ACHA, anything can happen.
“I’m not worried at all about tomorrow. We are going to come out and play our game and I don’t foresee us having any problems.” Hekle said.