By Eliav Gabay
Since its introduction as a club sport in 2016, women’s ice hockey at Arizona State has surpassed expectations.
From beating some of the top tier hockey programs in the country and being ranked in the top 10 nationally, to having multiple All-Americans; the club has done a lot in a short time.
“Our very first year, we were just trying to field a team,” head coach Lindsey Ellis said. “It was always our goal to go to nationals. It’s been quite the journey of getting girls to believe in that…we’re finally here.”
The program went from earning its first Western Women’s Collegiate Hockey League (WWCHL) playoff bid in 2017-2018 to now winning the WWCHL conference championship and punching its ticket to the big dance for the first time.
“Sometimes I look out during our games and I have to catch myself,” Ellis said. “When we played Michigan State, I looked out and I was like, ‘Wow, Look how many people are here to watch us play,’ and that’s something we haven’t had in prior years.”
“It’s like night and day,” fifth-year grad student Sheridan Gloyd said. “A completely different team, different culture. We’ve built up so much. Our core values really show…our goal has been to make it to nationals. Now that we have, I feel like it’s an expectation for us.”
Reaching the heights they have this year is a testament to the growth of the program and the talent on the roster.
“It’s the work that’s been put in from all the girls that graduated before us,” junior Berkleigh Radcliffe said. “They really set up the program for success and were able to leave a legacy.”
“Some of the emails I get or calls I get I have to double-check what team or university they’re at,” Ellis said. “Sometimes I have to really think, ‘I can’t believe these girls want to come here.’ It’s really exciting that we have such talent that wants to be here and such talent that also wants to win a national championship.”
As the 7th-seeded Sun Devils prepare to face Maryville in the first round on March 16, they can’t help but appreciate this season’s journey thus far.
“We all are so excited we won playoffs for the first time in program history,” Radcliffe said. “That wasn’t just one weekend, that’s the momentum we’ve carried into the entire season and that we’ve been pushing for.”
“From the beginning of the season, I was really excited,” Gloyd said. “We had a bunch of new recruits coming in. You could just tell we were gonna be very talented this year. We really put in the work and I feel like we deserved to win playoffs and go to nationals.”
However, due to limited university financial support (ASU covers 3% of season’s costs, per the club’s donation page), this year’s squad has had to rely on donations to get to the National Championships in Marlborough, Massachusetts.
Just as they had to when making the playoffs for the first time in ’17-’18.
“I do wish ASU was more involved and more supportive of us,” Ellis said. “That’s not a ‘us’ decision. That’s a university-wide decision. Eventually, as an Arizona-native, I would love to see NCAA Women’s Hockey at ASU and be the first to do it on the entire west coast…One day, I think it can definitely happen.”
As of now, the club has raised $25,400 – $400 more than its initial goal!
(Originally published at https://sports360az.com/2023/03/asu-womens-hockey-reaches-donation-goal-heads-to-2023-acha-di-national-championships/)