Thirty straight wins. Three-zero.
At what point is a rivalry demoted to ritualistic sacrifice?
On Friday night, the Arizona State Sun Devils defeated their hated in-state rivals from the University of Arizona for the 30th consecutive time, a streak that dates back four years to February 20, 2009.
Playing without captain Colin Hekle, who suffered a separated shoulder in last night's win, the Sun Devils rallied from an early 1-0 deficit to dominate the final two periods in a decisive 5-1 victory.
Much like last night, ASU was sloppy early on, taking two penalties. They successfully killed the first one, but the Wildcats drew first blood on their second man-advantage opportunity.
Andrew Murmes dribbled a weak shot along the ice that slipped through ASU goalie Joe D'Elia's legs with just a single second left on the power play.
Like last night, the Sun Devils were not daunted by the early deficit. ASU forward Kyle Bowen, one of the team's top forecheckers, made a magnificent steal at the UofA blueline, skated to the right circle and fired a wristshot passed UofA goalie Robert Schultz to even up the game. The Sun Devils struck again late in the period, when Brian McGinty redirected a puck out of the air in front of the net, and the puck bounced just passed the line for the score and a 2-1 ASU lead.
It didn't take long for the Sun Devils to build upon that lead in the second period.
Danny McAuliffe skated into the offensive zone and fired the puck towards a screened Schultz, where Kale Dolinksi redirected the puck into the net for a 3-1 lead at the 17:22 mark. It extended the lead and also marked a nice bit of history, representing Dolinski's 50th career goal as a Sun Devil.
ASU continued to dominate the remainder of the period, but failed to score until the final two minutes. Dan Styrna skated into the zone on the left wing and lobbed a pass into the slot, where Faiz Khan made a terrific adjustment to the contested pass, gained possession and scored his 11th goal of the season for a 4-1 lead.
The third period was relatively quiet until the end. With just under four minutes left, UofA was called for a delayed penalty, and with the extra attacker, the Sun Devils executed a flawless break into the zone, where Dolinski buried his second goal of the game and his 30th of the season.
Near the end of the game, ASU's Phil Sansone finally got into the long awaited scuffle, throwing down a Wildcat and receiving a standing ovation from the crowd. As the final seconds ticked away, many fans waved "30" signs signifying ASU's incredible streak.
Also of note was the generosity of ASU defenseman Brian Parson, who gave away his stick to a kid in the crowd after getting a penalty after Sansone's fight.
D'Elia picked up the win to improve to 22-4 on the year, stopping 15 of the 16 shots fired his way. Schultz lost for the second straight night to drop to 3-5, making 27 saves.
1st - UA, 12:33: Murmes (17) Power Play
1st - ASU, 9:56: Bowen (2)
1st - ASU, 1:13: McGinty (15), assists Clark, Dolinski
2nd - ASU, 17:22: Dolinski (29), assists McAuliffe, McGinty
2nd - ASU, 2:21: Khan (11), assists Styrna, Parson
3rd - ASU, 3:38: Dolinski (30), assists McAuliffe, Khan