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Sun Devils’ ACHA Division II team names Dusbabek new bench boss

 

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Joe Dusbabek has been introduced as the new head coach for Arizona State University’s ACHA Division II team.

Dusbabek, 42, comes to the Sun Devils with a distinguished hockey career of more than 20 years of coaching, plus eight years of professional hockey experience and four years playing NCAA hockey.

“We are very excited to add Joe to the ACHA staff,” said Tait Green, who serves as ASU’s ACHA Division I head coach and director of hockey. “His previous experience and current commitment to our program will make the Division II team an immediate national tournament contender.”

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Dusbabek is very familiar with Arizona hockey after serving as an assistant coach from 2009-12 and the head coach from 2012-20 at Notre Dame Preparatory High School in Scottsdale.

His teams won two state championships and made two appearances at the USA Hockey High School Nationals.

The Saints claimed the 2019-20 Arizona High School Hockey Association (AHSHA) championship by defeating Desert Vista, 3-0, behind MVP goaltender Aiden Rettke.

A native of Faribault, Minn., Dusbabek played for the University of Notre Dame from 1996-2000. He collected 26 goals and 75 points in 107 career games with the Fighting Irish.

While playing at Notre Dame, Dusbabek was drafted by the San Jose Sharks in the seventh round (163rd overall) in the 1997 NHL Draft and scored two goals in seven games while representing Team USA at the 1998 World Junior Championship.

He played in 400 professional hockey games in the American Hockey League (AHL), ECHL, United Hockey League (UHL) and Central Hockey League (CHL).

Dusbabek played four seasons (2000-04) for the Roanoke Express in the ECHL, logging 64 goals and 170 points in 234 games, while also suiting up in two games for the AHL Bridgeport Sound Tigers in 2003-04.

He appeared in 17 playoff games with the Express, collecting five goals and 12 points.

Dusbabek moved over to the UHL Quad City Mallards in 2004-05 where he recorded 11 goals and 33 points in 71 regular season games while appearing in six playoff games.

Dusbabek concluded his minor league hockey career on the West Coast by playing two seasons (2005-07) in the ECHL for the Phoenix RoadRunners (pictured) and Utah Grizzlies and one in the CHL with the Arizona Sundogs (2012-13).

He suited up in 64 games for the RoadRunners, recording 11 goals and 31 points. He appeared in 11 games for the Grizzlies, including four Kelly Cup playoff games.

Dusbabek served as head hockey instructor for the University of Notre Dame Hockey Schools and as an assistant skating instructor for the Robby Glantz Power Skating Company.

Raising Arizona

The Sun Devils finished an otherwise outstanding 2019-20 season with a final 20-9-0-3 record and 16th ranking in the West Region.

ASU finished second in the Pac-8 South Division standings with a 10-2-2 conference record, placing just two standings points behind the regular season division winner Cal-Berkeley Golden Bears (11-3 in conference).

The Sun Devils faced off the conference championship tournament Feb. 7-9 in South Lake Tahoe with a 4-0 win over Eastern Washington University. The win advanced them to the semifinals against fifth-ranked Oregon; they ended their season with a 4-3 overtime loss.

Oregon went on to win its second consecutive conference championship with a 3-0 win over 12th-ranked Boise State, showing just how close the Sun Devils were to finishing among the elite teams in the conference.

Jacob Lester, Joshua Tucker and Alexander Altman each scored goals in the season-ending loss to the Ducks while ASU goaltender Joshua George stopped 26 of 30 shots.

On the season, Cameron Ward (16 goals, nine assists), Michael Andriot (12 goals, 13 assists) and Jagr Larson (five goals, 20 assists) all tied for the team scoring lead with 25 points.

Lester followed the trio on the scoresheet with nine goals and 13 assists for 22 points.

Ward and Andriot both tallied three game-winning goals while Ward led the team with six power play goals.

ASU employed four goaltenders over the course of its 32-game season. George posted a 7-3-0 record with a 2.52 goals-against average and .901 save percentage in 12 game appearances while Mark Becica logged a 6-6-1 record with a 3.05 GAA and a .882 save percentage in 14 games.

Zach Hale was 5-1 with a 1.67 GAA and .933 save percentage in six games while Sean Slavik won his only decision with a 2.00 GAA and .933 save percentage.

The quartet posted an impressive eight shutouts, including four by Becica and three by George.

The Sun Devils’ 2019-20 finish was an improvement from a 7-20 finish in 2018-19.

Dusbabek inherits an ASU team rich in scoring depth, as 26 players on last season’s roster scored at least one goal and 17 players collected at least 10 points.

The Sun Devils secured second place in the Pac-8 South Division standings by winning two of three games in a late season series showdown against the visiting San Diego State University Aztecs.

ASU hosted the three games between division rivals in grueling fashion by playing successive games Jan. 24-26 at the Oceanside Ice Arena in Tempe.

The Sun Devils stopped the Aztecs, 6-1, in the series opener to blunt SDSU’s chance of capturing second place in the division. Jake Gealy paced ASU with a goal and two assists while Hale blocked 28 of 29 pucks fired in his direction.

The Aztecs won the second game in the series, 5-4, on a shootout goal by Michael Pellegrino. Lester, Andriot and Jacob Drobenz led the Sun Devils with a goal and two assists each.

ASU wrapped up the regular season with a 4-2 win as Andriot scored twice and Altman and Jacob Padgett each scored one goal. George stopped 32 of 34 shots.

The Sun Devils placed four points ahead of third place SDSU (8-5-1 in conference) in the division standings to secure second place.

Eight Arizona State players earned ACHA Division II Academic All-American honors: Dylon Adams, Tyler Billingsly, Dawson Black, Dobrenz, George, Zachary Kiser, Hunter Long and Ward.

To qualify, a student must be at least a junior and maintain a minimum 3.2 grade-point average.

ASU’s ACHA Division I team finished the 2019-20 season with a 17-11 record in 28 regulation contests while adding four overtime wins, three shootout wins and one overtime loss.

Scoring leaders on the Sun Devils’ Division I team included Clayton Lackey with 47 points (14 goals, 33 assists) and Elliot Plourde with 45 points (16goals, 29 assists).

New horizons

ACHA executive director Craig Barnett said the intent is to have a regular start to the 2020-21 season for all members that are permitted by their respective colleges and universities to compete this fall.

“It is the responsibility of each ACHA team to make sure they are in compliance with their respective institution, state and local guidelines to resume competition,” Barnett said. “The ACHA’s primary concern is the well-being and best interests of our student-athletes, coaches and fans, so we want to make sure that all ACHA teams meet these requirements and are eligible to participate during the 2020-21 season.

“The ACHA continues to monitor college and university plans on returning to campus and sports as well as the lead of several organizations such as the CDC, NCAA and USA Hockey regarding the COVID-19 situation. We are also working on several contingency plans to implement if need be due to the fluidity of these uncertain times.”

Barnett said the ACHA anticipates its annual team declaration and registration process to begin in July.

Photo/Phillip Brents

— Phillip Brents

(June 17, 2020)