(3TV/CBS 5) - ASU men's ice hockey is trending towards history. The Sun Devils are ranked 13th in the country and are trying to become the first independent team to make the NCAA Tournament in 26 years.
"We've kind of up until this point kind of been an urban legend program," said ASU Coach Greg Powers. "They don't have a conference. One day they might be pretty good and now I think we've got everybody's attention. We're legitimate. We're real and we're not going to be able to sneak up on anyone."
Talking @SunDevilHockey tonight on #AZFamily. Coach Greg Powers has the #Sundevils trending towards becoming the first independent team to make the NCAA Tournament in 26 years. pic.twitter.com/pdoTvxNHMZ— Mark McClune (@MarkMcClune) January 11, 2019
Powers has put together a solid group of senior leaders, young stars and a goalie who's leading the nation in shutouts. Joey Daccord hasn't been scored on six times this season. That leads the nation and his 32 save performance lead to the Sun Devils sweep over Boston College.
"The other day me and a couple teammates were out for breakfast," said Accord, a junior and draft pick of the Ottawa Senators. "Random people came up to us and said, 'you guys are killing it. Keep it going.' When I got here that wasn't really a thing."
Daccord grew up in Andover, Massachusetts and was big fan of BC alum and current New Jersey Devils goalie Corey Schneider. Joey wears number 35 because of Schneider. Daccord tries to pattern his game after Schneider, Pekka Rinne and the Canadiens Carey Price. His father, Brian, works as a goal tending consultant for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
"Most people kind of looked at me funny," said Daccord, when asked why he chose ASU. "They're like, 'hockey out there?' On second thought they were like, 'wow you might be the smartest college hockey player in New England.' The first two years when we were going through some growing pains so people kind of questioned that decision. But now, it's kind of hard to question it, right?"
While many thought it was a surprise move to play college hockey in the desert, the move is paying off. ASU is ranked 15th in one poll and 13th in another. The top 16 teams get in the tournament. The last independent team to qualify for the NCAA Tournament was Alaska Anchorage in 1992.