Satterstrom is typical of ASU's standout players, several of whom had devoted their entire lives to hockey before reaching a burnout phase. ASU provided a hockey sanctuary where the game was played for pure enjoyment, not for a scholarship or to impress professional hockey scouts.
The soft-spoken Satterstrom was the Ice Devils' leading scorer and Most Valuable Player for the 1998-99 season, and this year he tied Ian Smith for the team lead in points, with 41. Though the hockey prestige factor is lower at ASU than at Maine, Satterstrom says he feels more comfortable with the Ice Devils experience than in the rarefied air of NCAA hockey.
"You've got guys here who really want to play, and it's for fun," Satterstrom says. "I think when you're on scholarship, it's a lot more businesslike. It's more like a job. A lot of times, you're putting 40 hours a week into it, on top of your classes."
Much like Satterstrom, left winger Matt Barclay is a lifelong hockey zealot who took his shot at NCAA hockey and wound up disillusioned. A naturally combative force on the ice, in conversation Barclay conveys a detached sense of cool, like James Dean on skates. Although he's one of only five Phoenix natives on the team (his younger brother Mike is another), Barclay has probably taken the most convoluted path to the Ice Devils hockey team.
As a 5-year-old, he brought home a flier that invited kids to join "Desert Hockey," a series of youth-hockey lessons offered at Metrocenter. Barclay's dad, John, a justice of the peace and hockey devotee who moved to the Valley from Chicago, saw the flier and decided to take his son. Little brother Mike watched from the sidelines for three years until he was old enough to play.
In his sophomore year at Brophy High School, Matt was recruited by the hockey coach at Shattuck St. Mary's, a Minnesota prep school best known as one of the supreme hockey factories in the United States.
Halfway through his senior year, he chose to play junior hockey at Kalamazoo, Michigan. The next year he was traded to Indianapolis, where he finished high school.
He took a year off before enrolling in St. Mary's University in Minnesota.
"I was kind of burned out by then," he recalls. "Plus, I'd had a third-degree sprain on my ankle and fractured my fibula right before playoffs in Indianapolis, so I couldn't skate all summer and I was out of shape."
Many of his old Shattuck buddies were playing at the University of Minnesota-Crookston, an NCAA school, so he transferred there. Like Satterstrom, Barclay is undersized for hockey, at 5-9, 180 pounds. As a result, in two years at Crookston, he saw little playing time. He decided to transfer to ASU to play for his old youth instructor, Gene Hammett, the popular coach who preceded Volcan.
It wasn't the NCAA, but it was a chance to pay in-state tuition, get back to a sunny climate, and reconnect with old friends he hadn't seen much since high school.
Matt's brother Mike followed him to Shattuck. Mike struggled with his grades there and saw little varsity playing time, so he decided to transfer to Notre Dame High School in Saskatchewan, Canada, another vaunted hockey factory.
"It's just corn fields, and you freeze your ass off," Matt says. "There's nothing to do but drink beer and play hockey."
For his third year of high school, Mike lived in Austria with a family his dad had befriended as coach of a touring youth-hockey team. For simply sitting in classes and trying to pick up the language, Mike received a year of high school credit. The experience took well enough that Mike is now a German major at ASU.
Senior center Paul Goff faces an even greater size handicap than Satterstrom or the Barclay brothers. At 5-7, 155 pounds, he's the smallest starter on the ASU squad.
A native of Pickney, Michigan, Goff played three years of junior hockey, while mulling over his college options. He had scholarship offers from a couple of small Division II and Division III schools. But he kept thinking about a visit he'd made to Tempe the summer after his high school graduation. He liked what he'd seen of ASU, and he was surprised to learn that it had a hockey team.
"It just wasn't worth it for me to go live in a real small town in Ohio or New York, when I could come down here and still play hockey," he says.