(Photo: Hekle Photo Images)
The Sun Devils were defined by their large stable of scorers, but the most important goal of the year came from an unlikely source at the exact right time.
Over the course of the 2012-2013 season, Arizona State scored a lot of goals. Lots and lots of goals.
Led by a potent group of forwards that produced six 40-point or better players, the Sun Devils lit the red light 209 times during their season, which culminated in a run to the ACHA Final Four.
Yet for all of the warranted excitement that Kale Dolinski's 34 goals earned, the "Wow" factor of a large number of Stephen Collins' 27 scores, or the raw power of a Colin Hekle tally, the most important goal of the year came from a very unlikely source at the most important of moments.
Heading into February, the Sun Devils had run their winning streak over the hated Arizona Wildcats to an astounding 28 consecutive games. However, the early happenings in their match-up on February 1st in Tempe looked to end ASU's dominant run.
The Wildcats had held back an early Sun Devil surge thanks to the great goaltending of Robert Schultz, turning the tide and taking a 1-0 lead into the second period. Arizona added two more in the second, thanks to some sloppy ASU mistakes, to make it a 3-0 edge with just over five minutes left in the period.
Undaunted, ASU struck back, showing the grit and swagger that the 28-game streak had been built upon.
Faiz Khan and Kale Dolinski struck in the final minutes to narrow the Wildcat edge to 3-2 at the end of the second, and Dolinski scored again with 7:19 left in regulation to tie it up. Some exciting chances for each side in the final minutes were turned aside, and the game went into overtime.
Then, it was time for some "Wheaties on Ice".
Nearly three minutes into the extra period, Dolinski took the puck into the offensive zone, held it, and found defenseman Darcy Charrois streaking into the slot.
Charrois, a stout and reliable defender and one of the team's most respected players, was never known as a keen offensive threat. The senior came into the game with just five goals on the year, but was just seconds away from arguably the most important score of his career.
After taking the pass, he deked past a poke check to his right, evaded the pressure of three Wildcats collapsing to his left, skated right and unleashed a perfect wristshot over the glove of Schultz for the thrilling game-winner, and most importantly, streak-extender.
View the play in all its glory here.