A Maroon & Gold Thanksgiving as Hockey Hosts #2 Minnesota
TEMPE – 'Tis the season to be thankful. And the Arizona State ice hockey team has lots to be thankful for this holiday week: a new arena, Mullett maniacs, gorgeous weather, and in the words of Minnesota native Jack Jensen, simply "hockey in the desert with the boys."
This year the statement remains true as Sun Devil Hockey (7-6-0) hosts the No. 2/2 University of Minnesota (10-4-0) for the Golden Gophers' first-ever trip to Arizona this Thanksgiving weekend at Mullett Arena on November 25-26 at 7 p.m. MST. Limited tickets are still available for purchase, and streaming both games is free on Pac-12 Insider.
The last time ASU and Minnesota met was during the 2020-21 season and the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. ASU created a partnership with the Big Ten Conference in which the Sun Devils played the entire season on the road, solely against Big Ten teams. The Sun Devils traveled 15,519 miles, compiling 74 travel days, including 58 out of their first 70 days on the road. The two teams of Maroon and Gold competed four times within one month, all at 3M Arena. The Golden Gophers were ranked No. 1 and No. 4 during the matchups.
Minnesota leads the all-time matchup record with six unanswered victories against ASU dating back to March 2019. In all but two of the games against the Sun Devils, the Golden Gophers ranked in the top five of national polls.
The two teams are in the top ten of youngest teams in the NCAA, with an average of 21 years old. Minnesota's squad averages out at 21.1 years of age, while ASU competes at the ripe age of 21.8.
The matchup ignites a stint of tough opponents for the Sun Devils, who, after battling No. 2 Minnesota, will make the trip to the Mile High City to face the reigning national champions and currently ranked No. 1 University of Denver at Magness Arena.
SUN DEVIL REWIND
Josh Doan is on a four-game point-scoring streak with two goals and four assists. The sophomore captain moved up the stat sheet to tie winger Robert Mastrosimone for the team lead in points at 12.
Heading into the Clarkson series last weekend, Doan and Mastrosimone's linemate Lukas Sillinger was on a five-game point-scoring streak which started vs. Colorado College on October 21. He is tied with Doan at second with four goals this season and closely chases the point lead with 11 (4G, 7A).
TJ Semptimphelter continues to rule the land between the pipes for the Sun Devils. The sophomore goaltender has started all 13 games for ASU, ranking fourth in the NCAA in saves with 391. He is 7-6-0 on the season with a .927 save percentage and 2.38 goals against average. His three shutouts (Bemidji State, Colgate, and Alaska Anchorage) rank second in the nation.
The Sun Devils boast a top-ten power play unit converting at 25 percent with 11 power play goals. Last weekend at Clarkson, the Sun Devils penalty kill units built on a 14-kill streak that eventually skidded on Saturday night. ASU has out-blocked its opponents this season, 165-150, and out-scored opponents on power plays 11-9.
THE ARIZONA - MINNESOTA CONNECTION
In addition to Jensen, three other skaters (all freshmen) are from the state of Minnesota: Tucker Ness, Teddy Lagerback, and Charlie Schoen. Although a Scottsdale native, senior alternate captain Demetrios Koumontzis spent his younger years of junior hockey in the land of 10,000 lakes at Edina High School in Edina, MN.
Sophomore forward Matthew Knies, a childhood friend and former Phoenix Junior Coyotes teammate of Josh Doan, returns to his home state of Arizona this weekend. Knies leads the Gophers power play goal category and is third on the team in overall point scoring (8G, 6A, 14PTS) through all 14 Minnesota games.
Minnesota freshman forward Logan Cooley was selected No. 3 overall in the first round at the 2022 NHL Entry Draft by the Arizona Coyotes. Read more about the Arizona Coyotes draft picks Josh Doan (37th overall selection in the 2021 NHL Draft) and Cooley's experience at Development Camp this summer in Arizona. Cooley rounds out the top five of UM's point-scoring leaders with 12 (4G, 8A) through 13 games.
- Doan is one point away from reaching 50 career total points through 48 games played in his collegiate career.
- Sillinger has scored at least one point in six of the last seven games.
- ASU has held opponents to 30 shots or less in five or the last six games.
- ASU has won five of the last six games at Mullett Arena, including two sweeps.
- Minnesota is the first ranked opponent that ASU hosts in Mullett Arena history.
- Doan moved up to No. 9 in ASU's career assists after Saturday night at Clarkson.
- Kopperud moved up to No. 5 in all-time ASU total points with 67 (38G, 29A).
- Semptimphelter's three shutouts this season is second-most in ASU single season history behind Joey Daccord (seven in 2018-19).
HISTORY VS. MINNESOTA (0-6-0)
ASU vs. No. 2 Minnesota - November 26, 2022
ASU vs. No. 2 Minnesota - November 25, 2022
L, 2-10 at No. 4 Minnesota - January 22, 2021
L, 0-10 at No. 4 Minnesota - January 21, 2021
L, 4-6 at No. 1 Minnesota - January 4, 2021
L, 1-4 at No. 1 Minnesota - January 3, 2021
L, 2-5 at Minnesota - March 2, 2019
L, 1-5 at Minnesota - March 1, 2019
QUOTES FROM MEDIA AVAILABILITY
Head coach Greg Powers
On the mindset going into the tough two week stretch:
"It's hard to argue that it won't be the toughest stretch. It's back-to-back one against two so it's a great opportunity. That's how we have to approach this and look at it as having a top team in the country coming to our new building and showcase what college hockey is all about, and that's exciting for our program and exciting for our fans and we're hoping to put on a good show."
On what he saw in last weekend's tape:
"When you hold a team on the road to under 30 shots two nights in a row, in the out chance of both nights you don't expect to get swept. We mismanaged a game in critical areas that we just can't mismanage games especially on the road against good teams. It was a lesson learned. We were thin, incredibly thin, and we missed those five guys: (Jackson) Niedermayer, Charlie (Schoen), Jack Jensen got hurt his first shift of the weekend, and Ryan Alexander and then (Demetrios) Koumontzis was maybe 50% all weekend so just the depth just wasn't there. We're hoping to get a couple of them back this weekend and we're looking forward to that."
On where some injured guys stand:
"We're hoping to get at least two of them back to full strength this weekend which will be a big shot in the arm because we'll need them. We're not going to get all of them back, not all five of them, but we're hoping to get at least two of them back."
On what he's seen from Josh Doan this year:
"He's starting to come into his own. I thought he would be the first to tell you he probably had a little bit of a slow start by his standards, not by normal player standards, but now he's really going. You can tell. He was really good this past weekend. He was buzzing. He was creating all kinds of opportunities. He was above pucks. His stick was really good… Saturday night he was dominant. He's starting to play really, really good hockey at a time where we need him to, especially with the guys we have out and the lack of depth that we have up front right now. So, we're going to lean on him heavily and he's playing hard right now."
On Josh Doan settling into the captain role:
"He's been great in that role from day one. His character, the way he works, and how good of a teammate he is, we knew that he would be. He's going to continue to get better at it."
On what the team has worked on and goals for the Minnesota series:
"I think just really being hard to play against defensively. We have now five out of the last six games held our opponents to under 30 shots which is a good recipe for success. A five game winning streak going into last weekend, that was a big reason why, so we have to continue to defend really well. We've got to manage the game in critical areas that we just didn't do at Clarkson. Minnesota is really good. They're going to get their chances, so we have to be difficult to play against in our end. The best way to defend Minnesota is to make sure that they don't get the puck, so when we have the puck we've got to treat it like it's gold and possess it, protect it, and try to grind them out in the o-zone and keep them 200 feet from our net."
On scoring chances in front of the net:
"You have to win those areas. If you're going to be successful, that's where your goals are scored. When you score goals in the blue paint usually you pay the price and it hurts because that's why it's called the dirty area, that's the roughest part of the game. We have to own the blue paint on both ends. Generally the team that owns the blue paint at both ends is the team that wins."
Graduate forward and alternate captain Demetrios Koumontzis
On the mindset headed into the weekend:
"I think the margin for error is really low. We can't really afford many more losses, especially on the road because road wins help us a lot in the pairwise. Definitely just taking care of business. You have to get past the weekend that we just had and move on, but you have to use it as a learning point for this weekend against Minnesota. All focus is on the puck drop come Friday night, so we're just focusing on that right now.
On the feeling about hosting Minnesota:
"Feeling good. There are some guys on the team that have been a part of teams here that have some tough losses against them. Two where we had very limited bodies due to the covid season, and those are games we don't forget and I know the new guys that are here care about that and want to make it a big proven point for us to come out ready to play. Minnesota doesn't really respect us much and that's fine. They can do whatever they want, but now it's time for us to show them that we're not a joke and that we mean business."
On the struggles the team had at Clarkson:
"I think just managing the puck and being dialed and engaged in the d-zone. Coming from me and some older guys, there are just some mistakes that can't happen and those cost us goals and cost us games, and you can only move on from those and learn from them, so that's what we're doing this week."
On where he's at physically:
"I'm doing well. Just a couple of things that I'm dealing with but it's in that grunt of the season where you have to fight through whatever your body is feeling and especially with these next four games that we have coming up here. They're crucial games and I know we're all trying to get healthy right now and be ready as much as we can."
On scoring chances in front of the net:
"It's huge. Winning the net front battle is a big part of hockey and a lot of the goals come from in front of the net and I think we saw a little bit of that against Clarkson. We have to do more of that against Minnesota. I think we're going to be a harder team than they are and I think we have to use that to our advantage. Come Friday night just winning that net front battle on both ends that's going to be a big part of the game for sure."