Las Vegas Sun

November 12, 2019

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Southern Nevada native Dominic Garcia helping Arizona State hockey ‘be the tradition’

Dominic Garcia

Sun Devil Athletics

Arizona State junior and Southern Nevada native Dominic Garcia warms up before a hockey game at Oceanside Ice Arena in Tempe, Ariz.

TEMPE, Ariz. — The pregame tradition for the Arizona State University hockey team never changes. Instead of coach Greg Powers announcing the starting lineup to players in the locker room, he instead turns the duty over to a Las Vegas-area native.

And Dominic Garcia rolls with it. 

Garcia yells the name of a starter, players clap in rhythm and the process repeats, a way to get the team fired up before the game. It’s also emblematic of how important Garcia is to an upstart Division I team.

“Something just to add a little energy, and Dom is the ultimate energy guy,” Powers said. “It’s how he plays, it’s what he brings to our team, it’s what he brings to the lineup every day on the bench, on the ice, in the room, so he was the perfect guy to do it. And he’s just kind of taken it and run with it.”

Garcia is a junior at Arizona State, entering his third year in a program entering its fifth at the Division I level. He helped the Sun Devils reach their first NCAA tournament last year. He hails from North Las Vegas and spent his freshman year at Northwest Career and Technical Academy. He has played in Nevada, California, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and now Arizona.

He is the kind of player who every hockey team wants. He’s not a flashy scorer — with just four goals in his freshman and sophomore seasons — but provides a presence on and off the ice that is essential to any team. 

And for a young team whose mantra is “Be the tradition,” Garcia is considered a perfect fit.

“The guys here, the recruits here have an intangible that helps build what the tradition is here,” Garcia said. “It may not be a defined tradition yet, but we have the blue-collar, hardworking, honest people in here that push each other every day, and I think that’s something that everybody likes to be a part of.”

Garcia’s freshman year was the Golden Knights’ first year, so he hasn’t been in Las Vegas to see the growth of hockey firsthand. He gets back when he can and straps on the skates with the UNLV team from time to time.

“My family is definitely a Knights family,” Garcia said.

It’s also a Raiders family. His father came from the Bay Area, and they’re saving up their money for season tickets when the Raiders arrive next year.

Garcia also plays another important role on the Sun Devils, one he doesn’t take lightly. On his bio page on the team’s website, the last line says, “bodyguard for teammate Johnny Walker.”

“A couple of guys, especially on his line, have my back,” Walker said. “If I ever get into any trouble out there, they’re always the first ones to take care of things.”

Walker is the Sun Devils’ star, finishing second in the nation last year with 23 goals. He and Garcia have known each other since their youth days and played a year of high school hockey together in Indiana.

Garcia isn’t exactly the enforcer. But for a Sun Devils team on the rise and building its own tradition, having a player like Garcia is exactly what they need.

“He was more the skill guy and I just bang, so I took him under my wing,” Garcia said with a laugh.