TEMPE, Ariz. — Before every game, Jordan Young, a senior defenseman on the Arizona State hockey team, stands at the entrance of the dressing room like a bouncer — only instead of throwing people out, he draws each of his teammates into his embrace. It is a warm scene from a squad that shows few outward signs of softness, as symbolized by the hard hat awarded to the most valuable player after each victory.
A hockey uprising of geography against tradition is gathering force as Arizona State settles into its first year competing in Division I after abundant success at the club level. Like any infant, the hockey team is going through developmental stages that cannot be skipped.
As the only Pacific-12 university with a Division I hockey team, Arizona State has to fly before it can skate, so the Sun Devils logged about 9,500 air miles over 10 days in October for games in Alaska and Connecticut, with a stopover in Arizona long enough for the players to attend two days of classes.