Powers Adds 4 More Forwards
Coach Greg Powers and the ASU hockey team are at it again.
Four more forwards have committed to becoming Sun Devils.
One of the biggest and most recent recruits of the offseason is 21-year-old forward Eric Rivard.
In the NAHL last year, Rivard scored 24 goals and 39 assists in 58 games. He’s also had three straight seasons with 40 or more points.
But the thing that stands out the most about Rivard is his physicality on the ice.
“Eric is exactly the kind of player I was in search for to put us over the top,” Powers said. “He’s a big, mean, aggressive and hardworking kid who can really move the puck and put the puck in the net. His size, toughness and just overall work ethic is really going to be a huge asset to our program for the next four years.”
That aggressiveness on the ice racked up 109 penalty minutes last season alone — nearly double any Sun Devil player in 2012.
Rivard plans to use more than just his physicality on the ice at ASU.
“I will depend on my quick hands and tough wall play,” Rivard said. “I will also use my size to bring a net presence to challenge goalies.
He’s also looking forward to getting away from the cold in northern Michigan.
“It’s very exciting and I’m thrilled to be a part of a well established program — to play with some good hockey players, and the climate change,” Rivard said.
Powers is also excited about the potential of 20-year-old forward Chris Burkemper from Missouri.
At 6-foot-2, Burkemper has played one season in the NAHL and the last two in the EJHL.
“He can really get up and down the ice and score the puck,” Powers said. “He’s a big body up front and chose us over NCAA D-I options that he had … He’s going to light it up.”
The St. Louis-native scored 13 goals with 16 assists through 40 games last year with the Boston Jr. Bandits.
ASU wasn’t an unthinkable option for Burkemper either.
“I have loved the idea of playing hockey for ASU for as long as I can remember,” he said. “Coach Powers helped make my decision a lot easier … I can’t wait to be a part of it.”
But everyone has personal reasons for choosing a school as well.
“The girls, isn’t it obvious,” Burkemper laughed. “No, I’m just grateful for the opportunity to play for a championship caliber team. I’m going to strive to become a better player, and also strive to do well in the classroom.”
His new teammate, forward Chris Blessing, also comes in with some experience after playing two years in the BCHL, a year in the NAHL and one year at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls — an NCAA D-III school.
“Chris came on our radar very late and is close friends with Brett Blomgren,” Powers said. “He is an incredibly gifted hockey player who was very successful in both the BCHL and NAHL, and had a great start to his college career at River Falls.”
Blessing said both leagues have prepared him for different styles of play, from an offensive heavy BCHL league to the physicality in the NAHL.
Now he just wants to experience a winning style of hockey.
“The deciding factor in choosing ASU was the commitment to winning,” Blessing said. “They have a great track record for the D-I team and everyone wants to be involved in a winning program and possibly make a run for a championship every year.”
Also coming from the NAHL is Colorado native Patrick Yudez.
The 21-year-old forward has played in 141 games over three years for the Wichita Falls Wildcats recording 19 goals and 22 assists.
Yudez heard of the program and arrived on Powers’ radar through recent recruit Alex Temby.
“They are very close friends and the more I spoke to Yudez, the more I liked him,” Powers said. “He battled injury some in his last year, but he also was a captain in the NAHL.”
Yudez feels that experience in juniors has prepared him for college hockey.
“I think playing for so long at that level should allow for a more smooth transition into college hockey,” Yudez said. “I definitely learned a lot playing juniors and it was a great experience.”
However, college brings several different factors into play, but that’s another reason Yudez is happy with his decision to join his friend at ASU.
“I look forward to being on a team that’s dedicated to winning and being the best,” he said. “I’m also looking forward to being a part of the big school type of atmosphere.”
These three new forwards continue to add talented depth to Powers and the Sun Devils roster.
The road to Delaware is clearly on the mind of coach Powers and his new recruits flocking to the Valley of the Sun.
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