Power Ploys

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Like Satterstrom, Goff is a quiet, low-key leader, and one of the few players on the team whose work ethic meets with Volcan's approval. Both players are in their mid-20s and they're both mature enough to view their Ice Devils playing time as a fun way to end their careers, but not a life-or-death experience. On a squad characterized by its boisterousness, they seem to provide the emotional rudder.

After Goff graduates this spring with a degree in political science, he'll join the Air Force. He's always dreamed of being a pilot, and has been accepted in the Air Force's flight program.

When he talks about playing for the Ice Devils, he most often raves about the camaraderie that's made this hockey experience more enjoyable than his previous ones.

"I've never been on a team that got along as well as this team," Goff says. "It's amazing. One of the best things about this team is that you gain 25 friends that you'll probably have forever. We always hang out together and see each other everywhere we go.

"They're definitely serious about winning. It's not like a Division I program where you're in the weight room three hours a day and you're on the ice two hours a day. But the guys are proud and they want to win."

Maybe so, but that commitment did not extend to paying their own way to Minot. One would imagine that the team vote was a contentious affair, but players say the team was solidly in agreement that it was not financially feasible to go to the playoffs. They tend to frame the issue as an opportunity that was ripped away from them, rather than a decision that they chose to make. They blame Gagleard, saying he took away their chance at a championship season when he withdrew his sponsorship.

"That killed everything," Matt Barclay says of Gagleard's pullout. "We would have had a real good chance at nationals, too."

Despite Barclay's confidence in his team's chances, a few players hint that the team was unlikely to go far in the tournament -- although they were guaranteed at least two games -- and that the trip would have been a waste. It's the kind of defeatist attitude that makes Volcan talk about the need to bring a different type of player to ASU, one who isn't content to sit around contemplating his jockstrap while his rivals go to the nationals.

Only seven of ASU's 26 players are seniors, but one senses that only a few of the underclassmen will be asked back next season by Volcan. He's ready to build a new kind of team.

Mickey Volcan works out every morning, because he feels that he has to be in shape to drive his players harder. He wants to show them that he can do everything on the ice that he asks them to do. He knows that his hard-nosed, blustery methods have alienated some of his players, but he cares only about winning, not popularity.

Ask Matt Barclay about the differences between playing for Volcan and his predecessor, Gene Hammett, and Barclay hesitates for a few seconds. "Hmm, that's a sensitive area," Barclay says.

The 25-year-old Barclay has a unique perspective on the two coaches. As a kid, he received hockey instruction from Hammett, and his friendship with the coach was instrumental in convincing Barclay to transfer to ASU from Crookston in 1996. He played two seasons for Hammett, took a year off from hockey, and returned to play for Volcan this season.

"Gene Hammett could relate more to the players," Barclay finally allows. "He was one of the guys. No one could really say that Mickey is one of the guys. He might want to think he is, but he never got down to the players' level. He was the coach, you were the player, whatever he said went, and he didn't have to explain himself.

"Gene Hammett was a total personable guy, you could talk to him anytime. He'd drink beers with the guys, he'd tell stories. And he was a positive coach, too. He wasn't one who'd yell all the time. And sometimes he got ripped on because some people thought he was too laid-back, but I'd rather have the coach who's more positive on the bench than one who yells at the players."

In his nine years as coach, Hammett did much to elevate the ASU program to respectability. The team earned back-to-back playoff bids in 1996 and 1997, and would have made a third straight trip to the nationals in 1998 if it hadn't been disqualified for using a Mesa Community College student who was not enrolled at ASU.

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Gilbert Garcia
Contact: Gilbert Garcia