So, what do we know about Arizona State? The basic details.
* They're not as young as you'd think. At an average age of 22 years and 2 months, the Sun Devils are tied for the 17th oldest team in the nation in just their first Division I season. (RPI's average age is 21 years and 7 months.)
* Still, they've got a lot of freshmen. 15 of them on their 33 man roster, although one is redshirting.
* Nearly all of them, including the ones who were brought up from their club team, played junior hockey at a fairly high level - many from the USHL, NAHL, and the BCHL.
* They've won three games against Division I opponents - one against Alaska on "neutral" ice in Anchorage, two against Lake State in Sault Ste. Marie.
* Pounded arch-rivals Arizona (still a club team) 8-1 in their first game, and annihilated D-III Southern New Hampshire by a 16-3 margin in two games. They're very legit D-I already.
* Led Clarkson 2-1 in Potsdam in the 2nd period before falling 3-2 and then 4-1 the next night.
* According to KRACH, they're at least better than Sacred Heart, Canisius, Niagara, and American International already. Two of those have been to the NCAA tournament recently.
So if you're expecting the Engineers to just waltz into this one without cares, rack up goals, and go home happy, you're probably going to be disappointed.
First off, that really doesn't happen with RPI - they do have an earned reputation for playing to the level of their opponent, which is something they should probably focus on this weekend - play their game, not the opponent's game.
Second, Arizona State's certainly not bad. They've only been shut out twice, and one of those was Quinnipiac.
But... Jason Kasdorf and Cam Hackett are probably the best two goaltenders they've seen since playing Michael Garteig and the Bobcats. Especially if Kasdorf can keep up his momentum from his amazing 43-save comeback against Harvard, and if Hackett can keep playing like he's been playing, it's probably going to be a long weekend for the Sun Devils.
RPI's focus has got to be on not having a letdown against a team they know they should be able to beat. That's been the struggle in recent years. End the calendar year on a positive note and come back in three weeks picking up where they left off. That's what we need to see - so they certainly need to show off a little devil here tonight.