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Whenever Arizona State hockey went into 3-on-3 overtime, head coach Greg Powers always knew who would be the one to lead in the high pressure and highly skilled environment. Forward Sean Dhooghe, overlooked for his size at 5’3”, brought unparalleled playmaking ability and speed to the Sun Devils. 

His abilities in that format would soon become marketable when Hall of Famer Craig Patrick created a summer league consisting of 3-on-3 hockey called 3ICE. 

Patrick’s preexisting relationship with ASU assistant coach Alex Hicks from Hicks’ playing days with the Pittsburgh Penguins created a connection that put Dhooghe’s name on the short list. 

“If there was a kid who was tailor-made for full ice 3-on-3, it’s Sean Dhooghe,” Powers said. “There’s so much ice and space in full ice 3-on-3 and so much ability to be creative. You use your hockey IQ and that’s what Sean has and that’s what made him the player that he’s always been. He’s incredibly small and undersized, but he’s survived at really high levels because he’s such a smart player.” 

Dhooghe made the cut in the six-team league with six skaters on each team. He will be coached by New York Islanders legend Bryan Trottier. Former NHL players Guy Carbonneau, Grant Fuhr, John LeClair, Joe Mullen, and Larry Murphy will coach the other teams. 

More: Arizona Coyotes bring in 5-foot-3 Sean Dhooghe for prospect development camp

The traveling tournament will be held in nine North American cities this summer. The games will be played in two eight-minute periods, using a running clock, on a full-sized rink. Each team will compete in a nine-week season that will feature six games each night. 

“The most exciting thing about it is the fact that it’s brand new. I know they worked really hard over the years to create the idea and make it come to life, but being able to be a part of its inaugural season and it being a whole different game than what you typically play is really exciting,” Dhooghe said. “It takes the most exciting parts of hockey and it makes it permanent so that’s super cool.”  

Dhooghe ended his college playing career this season with 14 points over 34 games. The forward brought in an impressive resume from three seasons at Wisconsin and led the Badgers in scoring during his sophomore season with 26 points (15 goals, 11 assists). 

In his two seasons at ASU, Dhooghe made an impression on the coaching staff and will return next season as a graduate assistant.  

“It was definitely something I couldn’t pass up and I think for me the most exciting part is getting to stay around the team and the team atmosphere around the season, but also to see the other side of things. I think it’s important at some point for players to be able to see the other side of that door and understand why things happen,” Dhooghe said. 

ASU had a record six players sign professional contracts this season. The program continues to grow in success in preparing players for professional hockey careers.  

However, not everyone plans on playing at the professional level after ASU. Dhooghe’s aspirations to become a pilot succeeded over playing professionally. 

“He could’ve played in the East Coast Hockey League, he might have been able to go into the American Hockey League. He absolutely could have gone overseas and played on the big ice and made pretty good money. Sean has always known what he’s wanted to do. He’s wanted to be a pilot and when this thing came up, it’s a short season over the summer and he knows it’s made for him,” Powers said. 

Dhooghe has spent his career overcoming obstacles as an undersized player and expects to find his niche with the space given in the high-powered 3-on-3 format.  

“There’s not going to be much contact and it fits my game the best. I can model it really well and bring speed and a lot of skill and a lot of scoring opportunity. I think I fit into the model of what they’re trying to produce very well,” Dhooghe said. 

The 3ICE season begins on Saturday, June 18 in Las Vegas. The league’s championship weekend on August 20 will also be in Las Vegas. The games will be available on the CBS Sports Network.

ASU will begin its season on October 1 at Minnesota-Duluth.  

Reach the reporter at [email protected] or 602-647-4122. Follow her on Twitter @jennarortiz

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