Sun Devils get “back to basics,” sweep Rams

Sun Devil Hockey Captain Colin Hekle looks for a pass during the second period on Saturday night. Hekle had the game winning goal against the University of Rhode Island Rams. (Will Argeros/DD)

The No. 2 Sun Devils walked over the No. 17 University of Rhode Island Rams this weekend, winning both games without allowing a single goal.

Over the weekend, junior goaltender Joe D’Elia stopped all 38 shots he faced over the two games.

D’Elia did not dress for the series against the University of Central Oklahoma after he surrendered six goals to the University of Oklahoma. He said it was good that coach was confident in him, and that it helped in this series.

“I felt my mental approach was better. This week I worked on staying at the top of my crease and challenging the shooter and that helped me for sure,” D’Elia said.

The team blocked 19 shots between the two games, and D’Elia said the defense did a good job of clearing loose pucks.

Senior defenseman and alternate captain Brian Parson said the team showed an improved defensive focus.

“We were doing the little things right: blocking shots, looking for the simple pass, not trying to be the hero,” Parson said. “No one wants to be the hero out here.”

The Sun Devils only managed seven goals on 98 shots this weekend. Head Coach Greg Powers said the team just needed to get back to basics.

“We just have to get more traffic and simplify. I want to see guys put the puck in the net, you can’t let teams hang around. When you have the chance to step on someone’s throat, you have to do it,” Powers said.

Of the seven goals, four came from the No. 1 line of juniors Colin Hekle and Dan Styrna, and sophomore Faiz Khan. Hekle said they have a special on-ice chemistry.

“It’s something you just can’t teach,” he said. “We see each other on the ice. I just don’t see anyone else as well as I do [Styrna and Khan]. We think two steps ahead of the play.”

The Sun Devils will need their top line to continue to produce as they take on the University of Arizona on Friday and Saturday for the final home games of the season. The puck drops at 8:00 p.m. on Friday and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Editor’s note: Will Argeros is the official stats tracker for the Sun Devil hockey team. His responsibilities include counting hits, blocked shots, shots for and against, face-off wins and losses and power play and penalty kill successes, as well as tracking goals, assists, penalties and plus/minus. The position is unpaid.