Start of Final Stretch vs. #7 Michigan
Preview by Kaylee Connors, Sun Devil Media Relations Intern
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Following a series split with Michigan State two weeks ago, Sun Devil Hockey returns to Ann Arbor this weekend for the first time since the start of the season to face No. 7 Michigan (12-8-0). Friday and Saturday's puck drops are set for 5 p.m. MST on Big Ten Network Plus.
The series kicks off the final road trip of the 2020-21 season, as ASU looks to even out the season series with Michigan after dropping the first two games of the season.
"The way the season started and how they manhandled us in that first game, it left a bad taste in our guys mouth," said head coach Greg Powers. "We don't feel like we showed the type of team that we can be when we were there. We know how good they are, we saw it and felt it firsthand, and we've seen a ton of their games since. So it's going to be really hard, but we know we can have a much better showing than we had."
Sun Devil Rewind
Senior forward Johnny Walker will look to become the program's all-time leading point scorer after scoring two points last weekend to tie Brinson Pasichnuk at 107 career points. He has three multi-point games in the last nine games. Freshman Matthew Kopperud sits second in the country for goals scored by a rookie with 12, and is seeking to end a recent pointless skid. Between the pipes, freshman goaltender Cole Brady added his fourth game with 30 or more saves last weekend and seems to have found his groove since returning from mononucleosis. Despite the recent loss, Coach Powers called it one of the team's best performances from start to finish, as the Sun Devils were able to outshoot Michigan State (33-24) with 15 and 16 shots on goal in the 2nd and 3rd periods, respectively.
Fountain of Youth
The Wolverines have gone 12-8 on the season and 7-3 in their last 10 games with a recent split against Ohio State. They are led by four freshman with San Jose Sharks' draft pick Thomas Bordeleau spearheading the young roster with 25 points (7G-18A) this season -- the most by any rookie in the country, Kent Johnson is right on his heels with 22 points (7G-15A), Brendan Brisson with 18 points (8G-10A), and Matty Beniers with 16 points (6G-10A). Beniers, Brisson and sophomore d-man Cam York were part of the World Junior Classic Team USA gold medal team in December. The Wolverines have had a solid 1-2 punch in net with Strauss Mann and Erik Portillo splitting time evenly over the last four series. During this recent stretch, Mann is 3-1-0 with a 1.01 goals against average and .966 save percentage, while Portillo is also 3-1-0 with a 1.76 GAA and .930 save percentage.