The quietly confident Arizona State Sun Devil ACHA D1 hockey team knocked off the top ranked team in the country, Minot State University this weekend with a pair of 3-2 victories including an overtime win on Friday night. With the sweep the Sun Devils will clearly move up the ACHA rankings and have positioned themselves for a serious run at a national championship in March under first year head coach Josh Brown. ASU now 11-1 on the season will now enjoy five more home games before ending 2016 with their rivals in Tucson and the future looks bright
With Minot State having played Thursday night in Tucson against the University of Arizona, the Sun Devils knew that while they me be a bit tired they would compete to the end and if not for a Seth Lind overtime goal Friday night could have entered Saturday night's contest looking for a sweep of their own. ASU and coach Brown knew the key to Saturday night was starting fast and that they did, scoring all three of their goals in the opening period. Minot State battled back with a dominating second stanza , while Brown admitted the team took their "foot off the gas" and if not for the play of Lucas Felbel in goal may have also lost the lead. "Lucas, actually both are goaltenders have been really good for us all season, but he really kept us in the game tonight especially in that second period," said Brown. Minot State scored twice in the second period and both teams held each other scoreless in the final period to preserve the Sun Devil win.
With strong leadership, great goaltending and a team loaded with offensive talent, the sky seems to be the limit for the Sun Devils who have simply one goal... a national championship. "Since the day we stepped on the ice this season the one goal we have is winning another national championship, and we won't stop until we do," said Ostertag. "We have the talent,, so it's just our jobs as leaders to show the young guys what it takes and we intend to do that." This roster has a little of everything from a 17 year old to 24 year old's and that is something Brown said is taking time to come together, but the results so far have been nothing short of awesome.
Improving to 11-1 with perhaps the hardest part of their schedule behind them, look for the ACHA D1 Sun Devils to be spending their spring break in Columbus, OH the site of this year's ACHA National Tournament.
Quietly Confident Sun Devils Knock Off
Top Ranked Minot State University
With Home Sweep!
Arizona State which won the ACHA D1 National Championship just three years ago, was in a state of flux since their addition of an NCAA D1 program two years ago, however stability has returned under the leadership of Brown, who played college hockey at Northern Arizona University. The decision to take the job at ASU was relatively easy for Brown who was coaching and living in Philadelphia, PA when the opportunity arose to return to Arizona. "I never really wanted to leave Arizona, but when I did there just wasn't enough jobs available, so during my time in Philadelphia I was able to gain valuable experience," said Brown. "The hardest part of coming back here was the 30 hour drive," joked Brown.
Being just a few years removed from a national championship meant the base was in place to be successful, but what Brown didn't know was what kind of talent pool was going to be available for him to choose from. That questioned was answered when Brown spoke with former Sun Devil ACHA D1 coach Greg Powers, now the current head coach of the Sun Devil NCAA D1 team. Powers told Brown he would have some really good building blocks if he could get two key players who had been with both his national championship team and had played on last year's NCAA D1 team, Ryan Ostertag and Michael Cummings to return after been cut from the NCAA D1 team this season.
"I didn't really know what to expect when I got here, but it didn't take long for the guys to buy into our system and having great leaders like Ryan and Michael has really been good, " added Brown. "I think it has taken a little time for the guys to learn our systems, but now we are playing pretty good." Playing pretty good might be the understatement of the season thus far for the Sun Devils who have been on two brutal road trips, played a tough rivalry series with the University of Arizona and just completed two games with the number ranked team in the ACHA and have tallied a 11-1 record along the way.
In addition to the leadership from Ostertag and Cummings, the Sun Devils also boast two of the best goaltenders in the ACHA in Jordan Gluck and Lucas Felbel. Both Gluck and Felbel have contributed and really been the backbone of the team to this point. Each of the netminders have had their share of shinning moments, however in the battle with arch rival Arizona two weeks ago Gluck stopped two penalty shots in the Saturday night contest.
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