Goalie Joe D'Elia (Photo: Allyson Cummings)
The nation's top team started off their huge Sooner State road trip with a big 4-0 win.
During their program-best 15-0-0 start, the Sun Devils had only had to play four games away from home—a two game series against Iowa State and then a trip down to Tucson to battle the Arizona Wildcats—so the bunch was eager to take the show on the road.
The nation's top ranked team left the friendly confines of Tempe's Oceanside Ice Arena this week for a challenging three game set in the Sooner State against a pair of teams that they will form a part of the new WCHL next season. Before the Sun Devils started a huge series against No. 6 Oklahoma lined up for Friday and Saturday, they had business to attend to against No. 15 Central Oklahoma.
ASU dominated the early going of the game, with the vast majority of the action taking place in the Bronchos defensive zone. The Sun Devils superior speed and passing ability was a major factor in their possession dominance, and they peppered UCO's freshman goalie Cole Buckley repeatedly, who was more than up to the task.
However, Stephen Collins finally broke through for the Sun Devils. Collins took a pass from Ryan Clark to the left of the net, and from his knees was able to snap the puck pas Buckley for the game's first goal.
The Bronchos came out firing to start the second period and did not let up. They controlled possession from the outset, their passing was crisp, and their offensive attack was very consistent. Even when ASU gained two power plays, UCO was still able to dominate play, denying the Sun Devils any quality chances.
Thankfully for ASU, goalie Joe D'Elia was outstanding, stopped all 12 Broncho shots, including denying a 3-on-1 opportunity. D'Elia's play was matched by Buckley, who stopped all 13 ASU shots in the period, many in highlight reel fashion.
After a sleepy start to the final period, things ratcheted up six minutes into the action. UCO's freshman forward Tierry Martine received a five-minute major and a game misconduct for spearing D'Elia. That gave the Sun Devils an extended power play, and after a few unfruitful minutes, Collins struck again. Taking the puck in the slot, he veered to the right and flipped the puck past Buckley to double the ASU lead with just under 10 minutes left in the game.
The Sun Devils would later seal the deal again on the power play. Following a slashing penalty, Dan Styrna scored his fourth of the year on a wicked wrister from the high slot to make it a 3-0 lead. With the play of D'Elia on the night, it may have well been 30-0. But for good measure, captain Colin Hekle scored a shorthanded goal to mark the final score of the game.
Both goalies had outstanding games. D'Elia made 22 saves on the night for his first shutout of the season to improve his record to 11-0-0. His counterpart Buckley was similarly fantastic, making 35 saves as his record fell to 1-1-0.
The win keeps ASU a perfect 16-0-0 on the season as they travel to Norman to face off for a pair of games against No. 6 Oklahoma.
Goals: ASU - Collins 2 (16), Styrna (4), Hekle (13)
Power Plays: ASU - 2/4, Central Oklahoma - 0/2
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