(Hekle Photo Images)
The Sun Devils stumbled out of the gates, but roared home for a sensational win.
Over the last 28 meetings against the University of Arizona, Arizona State has won every time. Some have been blowout wins and some have been thrillers, but none have had the drama of Friday night's game.
The Sun Devils struggled against an overmatched Wildcat team, trailing 3-0 late into the second period. A pair of late goals got ASU within striking distance, and a clutch goal in the third and some stout defense forced the affair into overtime.
Once into the extra period, an unlikely hero struck for a sensational game-winner that extended ASU's run of utter dominance over their hated Wildcat rivals.
It all began with an uneven first period that ultimately turned into a tale of two halves.
For the first 10 minutes of the game, the Sun Devils dominated. They controlled possession and kept the puck consistently in the UofA zone. However, Wildcat goalie Robert Schultz was more than up to the task of stopping shots, turning back all 15 he faced in the period.
Over the latter half of the period, the Wildcats began to even things up and mount some offensive pressure. With just under four minutes, the Wildcats drew first blood, when Andrew Murmes cleaned up a loose puck in front of ASU goalie Joe D'Elia for the period's only goal.
The second period did not start out any better for the Sun Devils. A bad turnover at the offensive blueline was quickly snatched up by Wildcats and turned into a 2-on-1, which was converted by Dane Irving. Now two minutes later, after a Colin Hekle penalty, the Wildcats scored on the power play thanks to a one timer by Brian Slugocki.
Undaunted, the Sun Devils rallied late in the period. The comeback was on.
A Dan Styrna wrister from the left circle blasted off Schultz' chest pads and over to a streaking Faiz Khan, who slapped home the rebound for the first ASU goal. Shortly after that, ASU found themselves on a power play, where Khan set up a beautiful goal with a pass to Kale Dolinksi, who buried his team-high 27th goal of the year to cut the UofA lead to 3-2 heading into the third period.
The Wildcats were able to stem the tide of ASU's growing momentum throughout the early parts of the third period, but soon enough, the Sun Devils were able to get through and get quality shots on Schultz. With just over seven minutes left, Dolinksi struck again with his second goal of the night off a great feed from Darcy Charrois. ASU continued to press the attack over the final minutes, but despite putting 20 shots on goal in the period, they could not score again and the game went to overtime.
ASU's dominance in the third carried over into the extra period of four-on-four hockey. UofA was unable to mount any kind of offensive attack, but Schultz was able to make the key saves to keep the Cats hanging around.
That is, until Charrois took an entry pass at the UofA blueline and skated in. He deked one defender away, and fired a wrister over Schultz' glove for the thrilling and streak-extending game winner with 2:11 left in overtime as the roof exploded off Oceanside Ice Arena.
D'Elia rebounded after a shaky start to play very well down the stretch and picked up his 21st win of the year. Despite an outstanding effort, Schultz fell to 3-4.
ASU captain Colin Hekle left the game with an apparent shoulder injury and did not return. He will be evaluated, and his status for tomorrow remains unknown.
The Sun Devils will look to make it 30 in a row over the Wildcats on Saturday night. The puck drops in Tempe on what should be a very brutal and exciting affair at 7:30 p.m.
1st - UA, 3:43: Murmes (16), assist Ferreira, Ambrosie
2nd - UA, 14:13: Irving (6), assists Lowell, Effertz
2nd - UA, 12:27: Slugocki (24), assists Ivens-Anderson, Murmes Power Play
2nd - ASU, 5:08: Khan (10), assists, Styrna, Hekle
2nd - ASU, 1:36: Dolinski (27), assist Khan Power Play
3rd - ASU, 7:19: Dolinski (28), assist Charrois
OT - ASU, 2:11: Charrois (6), assist Dolinski