The Sun Devils are just starting their 2nd full NCAA season and there’s a lot of new faces to meet. Over the Summer the Sun Devils were named 9th best in recruiting by NeutralZone.net and they are excited to see what this year’s freshman have in store for them.
The Devils have nine new freshmen on the team this year including highly touted Arizona Native Johnny Walker. Other noteworthy faces include Austin Lemieux (a redshirt freshman), two Latvians, and lots and lots of NAHLers. I’m going to introduce you to all of them.
First up is my favorite, Dominic Garcia (37). Hailing from Las Vegas, Nevada, Garcia cracked the opening roster on a 4th line, penalty killing role. Garcia has an infectious personality and it’s rare to seem him without a brimming smile. Garcia scored 14 goals and tallied 33 assists for 47 points in 56 games with the Aston Rebels as their Captain.
Next up are the Latvians. Gvido (Guh-vee-do) Jansons (3) and Filips Buncis (17) are both NAHL vets from Latvia. Jansons a small statured defenseman at 6’4”-210, played junior hockey in, you guessed it, Aston with Dominic Garcia. Jansons led all NAHL defensemen with 19 goals last year and third in total scoring by blueliners. Filips Buncis also a measly 6’4”-210 played in the NAHL as well serving as the Captain of the Johnstown Tomahawks, the first European captain in their history. Both have played for their country on the world stage, Jansons winning gold at the 2015 U20 WJC (D1A) and the 2013-14 U18 WJC (D1A).
From Ballwin, Missouri, Jacob Wilson (4) led the Sioux City Musketeers to the USHL Championship, where they fell to teammate Johnny Walker and the Chicago Steel. Wilson ranked 14th out of all USHL defensemen and led the league in game winning goals. Coach Powers is expecting big things from Wilson this season.
Surprisingly not the first Gage on the team, Gage Mackie (14) come from “The Great White North…and slightly to the west”.
Mackie, from Anchorage, Alaska, played at Shattuck-St. Mary’s, a noted hockey institution that produced mediocre talents such as Zach Parise, Jack Johnson, Jonathan Toews, Arizona Coyote’s No. 1 center Derek Stepan, and noted bruiser Sidney Crosby. Mackie also played in the NAHL like many of his teammates, a forward on the Aberdeen Wings.
Now this kid is actually from “The Great White North”.
From Ancaster, Ontario, Max Balinson (26) was drafted by Guelph Storm of the OHL, but played for Burlington in the OJHL where he was 3rd in scoring among all OJHL defensemen. Looking to bring his talents to the NCAA, Balinson is struggling to find his way onto a lineup stacked with great defensemen.
From Summit, New Jersey Mike DePhillips (33) is ASU’s newest netminder.
Unfortunatley for DePhillips, he’s behind sophomore Ottawa Senators Prospect, Joey Daccord and junior Ryland Pashovitz on the depth chart. DePhillips played for the Junior Islanders in the USPHL Premier league before committing to play for the Sun Devils.
On the smaller side, 5’10”-180, DePhillips will be looking to work on his positioning to make up for lack of size. Looks for him to get a couple starts this year against some lesser teams to gage his readiness for NCAA play.
I was originally going to write a whole piece on this guy and the impact he could have on the team this year, then I found out he was a redshirt freshman. In NCAA lingo, that means he won’t play this year and will work on conditioning and sharpening his skills so he won’t burn a year of NCAA play.
Austin Lemieux (16), yes son of that Lemieux, is built just like is old man at 6’3” and a lean 170. Fortunately for Austin, he doesn’t appear to have the same back ailments as his father had, which limited his career. After a mediocre year with the Omaha Lancers of the USHL, Austin led the USPHL in points last year with 20 goals and 54 assists for 74 points in 45 games. Lemieux led the Islanders to their first championship scoring a hat-trick in the series clinching game.
Coach Powers expects big things from Lemieux, noting that he “thinks the game on a different level” and “his hockey IQ is incredibly high”.
Huh, I wonder where he gets that?
Please excuse the following cliché.
Last, the Native son, from Phoenix, Arizona, Johnny Walker (7).
Johnny is a natural leader, captaining the Chicago Steel to a Clark Cup (USHL Championship) win over Jacob Wilson’s Sioux City Musketeers. Walker is the player to watch this year with the Sun Devils as he hopes to have a break-out year. Ranked 45th out of all 1996er’s, Walker hopes to be a leader on this youthful Sun Devil team early on and is excited to be on the top line with Tyler Busch (who tied for 2nd in points last year).